Diabetes Management

What Are Biomarkers? And Which Ones Are Important for Type 2 Diabetes?

Punya Srivastava ,
May 2022

Biomarkers of Type 2 Diabetes

Who among us has never taken a blood test, gauged their blood pressure, or even checked their body temperature with a thermometer? I am sure we’ve all had to face our needle fear every once in a while. But have you seen the numbers on the results of the test and felt, what are these and what do they mean? Those are biomarkers. These tests are necessary procedures that help us keep a stock of our health and the proper functioning of our physical body as a well-oiled machine. Especially in this day and age of chronic, lifestyle diseases. As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”, keeping on top of such biomarkers is an important step in that direction. 

What are Biomarkers?

In simple words, biomarkers (short for biology markers) are the measurable characteristics of the body that relay vital information about its health status. This is a biomolecule found in the blood, bodily fluids, or tissues that is an indicative sign of good health, health conditions, or diseases. Body temperature, blood sugar level, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), and heart rate are some of the biomarkers that can tell you what’s going on with someone’s health. For instance, high cholesterol levels are a common biomarker for heart disease risk. Similarly, high blood glucose levels indicate prediabetes or diabetes.

The most significant aspect of biomarkers is that they can act as an early warning system for any kind of disruption in your body. Their role is of further importance when it comes to personalized medical care. They indicate how competently or incompetently your body is reacting to a line of treatment, which allows your doctor to make modifications to the treatment plan. 

What are the Biomarkers for Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic health disorder characterized by hyperglycemia in which an excessive amount of glucose circulates in the bloodstream. The underlying cause of type 2 diabetes is the inability of insulin to perform its function properly, also known as insulin resistance. Eventually, the body loses its capacity to create enough insulin. And prediabetes is a stage wherein blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes.

Biomarkers for diabetes reveal the presence and severity of hyperglycemia or the presence and severity of vascular complications of diabetes. Elevated blood glucose level, hypoglycemia, elevated blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, and elevated triglycerides are some of the common biomarkers of diabetes. HbA1c (hemoglobin A1c) is the most prominently used biomarker to detect hyperglycemia. Apart from that, testing is also done using a fasting blood sugar test or random blood sugar test to detect the glucose level in the bloodstream. These tests indicate a person’s diabetic diagnosis. 

How Do You Measure Them?

HbA1c

HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin) test indicates a person’s average blood sugar level for the past 2-3 months. The purpose is to diagnose the diabetic stage (whether prediabetes or not), whether type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and to monitor the effectiveness of your line of treatment. If you are diagnosed with prediabetes, you have a higher risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Following is the range in which the result of the HbA1c test is interpreted as

  • Below 5.7% is normal.
  • 5.7% to 6.4% are diagnosed with prediabetes.
  • 6.5% or higher on two separate tests indicates diabetes.

Fasting Blood Sugar Test

As the name suggests, a blood sample is taken after an overnight fast in this test. The result is interpreted as the amount of sugar per unit of blood and is diagnosed as per the following:

  • Less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L*) is normal.
  • 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L*) is diagnosed as prediabetes.
  • 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L*) or higher on two separate tests is diagnosed as diabetes.

*Note: mmol/L* is millimoles of sugar per litre of blood.

Random Blood Sugar Test

A blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) or higher suggests diabetes, regardless of the time you ate your last meal, especially if you show symptoms like frequent urination, increased hunger, and thirst.

What is the Ideal Frequency of Doing These Tests?

The frequency of getting an HbA1c test done depends upon your risk factors, blood glucose levels, and your treatment routine. It is always a good idea to get an annual HbA1c test done if you have prediabetes. With type 2 diabetes, a minimum of twice a year works well, given that you are not on insulin and keep your blood glucose levels regulated. For those type 2 diabetics who do take insulin and are not able to manage their blood sugar within their target range, it is a good idea to get the HBA1c test done four times a year. This frequency may further vary if your doctor changes your treatment plan or alters your medication dose.

Most people with type 2 people have their blood sugar target range below 7%. Now, to achieve this target, one needs to maintain a self-monitoring routine with the help of a glucometer. Self-measured glucose levels usefully complement hemoglobin A1c levels to guide daily management decisions. So, for instance, if your A1C target is below 7%, your blood sugar levels, on average, should be below 154 mg/dL (8.6 mmol/L). 

For any other range worked out by your doctor, consider the following table:

What to Do When You Know About It?

Once you gather enough information regarding the biomarkers related to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, it is imperative to use them optimally and judiciously. Once you find out that you are at risk for diabetes or once you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. You need to contact your primary care physician and look into medical management. Depending on your stage the doctor will prescribe oral medicines or insulin. However, a more sustainable approach for leading a healthy life. A diabetes management program that will allow you to reduce your blood sugar levels sustainably and in some cases even reverses your type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Such a program will include a comprehensive approach that focuses on diet, exercise, stress, sleep, and pain management. It will help you manage your health condition by taking small and sustainable steps. Fitterfly’s diabetes and prediabetes programs – Diabefly Pro and Diabefly Reverse are designed with the aid of India’s leading diabetologists and have been clinically proven to reduce HbA1c levels. 

 

References:

  1. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/biomarker-qualification-program/what-are-biomarkers-and-why-are-they-important-transcript
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078627/
  3. https://www.labmate-online.com/news/news-and-views/5/breaking-news/what-are-biomarkers-and-why-are-they-useful/31934
  4. https://www.omicsonline.org/scholarly/biomarkers-in-diabetes-journals-articles-ppts-list.php
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351199
  6. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/a1c-test/about/pac-20384643

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