Should Diabetics Fast for Blood Tests?

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When it’s time for your aging relative’s annual exam, as a family caregiver, you’re probably responsible for helping them to prepare for it. This includes ensuring they follow any special instructions prior to the exam. One of these instructions may be to fast for certain kinds of blood tests. But what happens if your family member has diabetes? Should they fast? Is it safe?

What Do Scientific Studies Say?

According to a recent article published on WebMD, research suggests that fasting is not a good idea for diabetics and may even be unnecessary. According to a study conducted involving 350 people in Michigan whose average age was 61, 17 percent of diabetics who fasted for a blood test experienced low blood sugar. Those who were taking medications that put them at a greater risk for low blood sugar levels experienced hypoglycemia at a rate of 22 percent.

The study looked specifically at people fasting for cholesterol tests. The researchers say that their study suggests that diabetics, especially those at high risk, should not fast. They also say that it probably is not necessary to fast to get an accurate cholesterol level reading.

Although this study presents interesting information, the current medical guidelines still say that patients should fast for certain tests. And, some doctors insist on fasting depending on the tests needed.

How Should Diabetics Prepare for Tests?

If you’re worried about the older adult fasting, talk to the doctor about your concerns and follow their advice. One thing that may help is to inform the facility that the senior has diabetes and needs the earliest appointment possible. This will reduce the length of time they have to fast.

It’s also important to ask the doctor if the senior should adjust when and how they take their diabetes medications. They may be instructed to take a lower dose, not to take it, or to take it as usual. The instructions depend on the kind of medication they are taking, the timing of the test, and some other factors.

On the morning of the test, the older adult should check their blood sugar in the morning. If it is low, it is probably wise to have the senior eat and reschedule the test. If it is at or near normal, it’s safe to continue fasting and go to the test. Take a snack to the appointment for the senior to eat when they are done with their testing.

Senior care can help your aging relative to prepare for medical tests. A senior care provider can ensure the older adult stops eating at the required time. The senior care provider can also remind them to check their blood sugar levels and help them to take the appropriate steps based on the results.


If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Herndon, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 982-0050.