San Francisco — Yesterday I was wearing Band-aids on six of my fingers. I had my A1C tested six times in one day with five different systems.
I’m in San Francisco at what is probably the only place in the world where I could have this bloody experience. It’s the annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association.
The consistency of the results of these six tests is good news for people with diabetes. Each of these tests claim to be certified by the National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program (NGSP) or comparable to it, and the closeness of the results confirm these claims.
But my higher numbers from a year ago was bad news for me. At last year’s ADA in Chicago only three booths offered A1C tests. My results varied from 4.6 with Bayer HealthCare’s A1CNow+ to 5.1 with Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics’ DCA 2000+ Anaylzer to 5.3 with the Bio-Rad in2it A1C Anaylzer.
Those results for a person with type 2 diabetes like me made me happy that my numbers were down in the non-diabetic range. But I didn’t like the uncertainty of what my A1C level actually was.
This year my feelings are reversed. I expected a wide variation in my A1C results, based on my experience last year as well as my experience of comparing many fingerstick devices over the years.
Imagine my surprise, then, when four of the tests this year reported my level at 5.3 and two at 5.4. That’s as close together as anyone could want.
The Bayer booth at the ADA this year used its A1CNow+ and reported my A1C as 5.3. The Merck booth also used the A1CNow+ and reported it as 5.4.
The Takeda booth used the old DCA2000+ and reported my level at 5.3. The Amylin booth used the new DCA Vantage Anaylzer with exactly the same result.
Bio-Rad’s in2it A1C also reported 5.3. The newest test, Infopia’s Clover A1c, said my level was 5.4.
I hoped to get a seventh test when I saw Trinity Biotech’s A1C device. But it’s not quite available yet. While the Food and Drug Administration has cleared it, Trinity’s Tri-stat isn’t yet CLIA waived.
Each of these A1C tests return a result in five to 20 minutes. And, except for the A1CNow+, each are too big and expensive for home use. Right now, however, even the A1CNow+ isn’t appropriate for us consumers, because Bayer sells it in packs of 20 tests, which need to be used within a year. However, a Bayer spokesperson told me that next year they plan to sell them over-the-counter in three-packs.
I was surprised and displeased by my higher A1C values than a year ago. Surprised, because now I am following a very low-carb diet, while then I was using Byetta on a low-glycemic diet. I’ve also lost weight since then.
But I am happier with the three lipid panels I got at the same time as my A1C results. With each of the tests my cholesterol and triglyceride numbers are all in the “desirable” range. Besides having diabetes, my only risk factor for heart disease, according to Takeda, is that I am a “man 45 or older.” Nothing I can do about that.
Now I’m looking ahead to the next ADA convention. The ADA announced that it will hold the 68th Scientific Sessions next year in New Orleans from June 5 to 9. At the rate the number of A1C tests are increasing, I expect to have all 10 of my fingers bandaged up a year from now.
This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.