Home A1C test kits were found to be convenient and accurate, and may be a good alternative to A1C tests that require an office or lab visit in some situations, according to new research published in the journal Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics.
The study involved two different types of test kits in which people collect a blood sample at home. Both involved drawing blood from capillaries, or very small blood vessels found in your fingers and elsewhere in your body — the same locations used for at-home blood glucose testing. The participants were 240 people, ages 4 to 80, with a laboratory-confirmed A1C level ranging from 5.1% to 13.5%. Participants or their parents drew capillary blood samples and sent them to one of two different laboratories, sent by the U.S. Postal Service under a variety of shipping conditions. The results of testing using these mailed-in samples were then compared with those of a standard laboratory A1C test — using blood drawn from a vein — conducted around the same time as the at-home blood sample was taken.
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The main outcome researchers were interested in was what proportion of at-home tests had results within 5% of the same participant’s standard lab A1C test. They found that for one of the testing laboratories, this was true for 96% of blood samples shipped with a cold pack, and 98% of samples shipped without a cold pack. For the other testing laboratory, the at-home tests fell within the desired accuracy range 99% of the time regardless of whether a cold pack was used for shipment. The accuracy of results was similar across all A1C levels, and for both children and adults. Participants also reported that the at-home blood sample kits were easy to use.
The researchers concluded that for the specific kits and laboratories used in the study, it appears that at-home blood collection for A1C tests is just as effective as going to a lab for a blood draw. But since at-home testing isn’t really more convenient for most people — especially if A1C tests are usually done at a doctor office visit — it’s unlikely that at-home A1C testing will become the standard practice. This method of testing may be useful, though, for people who live in rural or remote areas, alongside a virtual doctor appointment (telemedicine). The researchers also noted that the results of this study shouldn’t be generalized to other at-home A1C test kits or testing laboratories.
“Clinical laboratories that wish to implement methods used in this study should comply with applicable regulations,” the researchers wrote, which entails validation of the device used by the laboratory. It’s also possible that ambient temperatures and the status of U.S. Postal Service delays could have an impact on results in different areas of the country.
Want to learn more about A1C? Read “How to Lower A1C Levels Naturally,” “How to Lower Your A1C Levels: More Steps You Can Take” and “HbA1c: What It Is and Why It Matters.”
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