Q: I have been told by my GP that I have pre-diabetes. Please could you explain the different methods for measuring blood sugar as I am confused by the various figures that get bandied around.
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A: There are a number of ways of measuring blood sugar, but the two most commonly used are either a snapshot fasting blood level or an HbA1c test that reflects levels over the preceding two to three months.
People with full-blown Type 2 diabetes will normally have a fasting blood sugar of 7 mmol/l or more, or an HbA1c of 48 mmol/l or more.
Defining pre-diabetes – a state where those affected have a one-in-ten chance of going on to develop Type 2 diabetes within a year – is more controversial.
Diabetes UK suggests anything above a fasting level of 5.5 or an HbA1c over 42.
As we get older, blood sugars do rise. Or to put it another way, an HbA1c of 47 would be worrying in a 40-year-old, but is likely to be normal in a 70-year-old.
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