What is Hba1c Test And Why It is Useful in Diabetes?

What is Hba1c Test And Why It is Useful in Diabetes?

If you are one of those unfortunate lot of individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes, you would have to learn a new language in order to manage it effectively. Not to worry, it could be bothersome for you initially, but over the time you will get the hang of it.

Highlights

  • Learning various medical terms is a part o f diabetes management, HbA1c is one of them
  • H1A1c test shows how well you are managing your diabetes
  • Correctly managing diabetes will reduce your chances of getting other health complications related to heart, kidney, eyes, etc.

As part of the diabetes management, you would be learning a new set of words such as hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c or simply A1c. This is not only the terms used in diabetic management but also a common topic of conversation for people suffering from diabetes. Let’s learn more about HbA1c.

What is HbA1c?

HbA1c is shorthand for ‘glycated hemoglobin’. Most of us are familiar with the word hemoglobin, it is the protein in the red blood cells to which glucose sticks, that’s why the name ‘glycated’. 

The role of hemoglobin is to carry oxygen across the body. It is also necessary to absorb glucose in the body. The glycated level of hemoglobin can be learned through HbA1c test.

What is the role of HbA1c test in diabetes?

The role of HbA1c test is to give an idea about the average blood sugar levels or percentage of sugar attached to the hemoglobin. This test gives estimates of 2-3 months. This is because the red blood cells in your body live for an average of 2-3 months before getting regenerated.

If your results are uncertain, the doctor will tell you to undergo another test to confirm. The numbers determine whether you are normal, pre-diabetic or have type 2 diabetes.

Below 5.7% - Normal
5.7 to 6.4% - Prediabetes
Above 6.4% - Diabetes

If you are diabetic, this also indicates how you are effectively managing your diabetes. The doctor could use the results to change your medication and diet plan.

If you are correctly managing your diabetes, you are at lower risk of getting vascular complications of heart, kidneys (Diabetic Nephropathy), digestive system, nerves (Diabetic Neuropathy), eyes (Retinopathy) and sexual organs.

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How HbA1c test is conducted?

During the test, the doctor will simply take a sample of your blood inserting a needle into a vein in your arm. The blood sample is then sent for analysis. You can immediately return to normal activities.

HbA1c Tests Facts

  1. The test is generally performed every 3 months.
  2. This test can only be performed in a doctor’s clinic or lab for the people who haven’t been diagnosed. However, once diagnosed and confirmed of diabetes, one can also perform this test at home.
  3. The percentage of test results indicates how much hemoglobin protein is glycated. For instance, if test results show 6% then it means that 6% of your hemoglobin proteins were glycated.
  4. Results can also be provided in an eAG measurement. The term eAG stands for Estimated Average Glucose and is recommended by American Diabetes Association. It is just another way of showing results in easy to understand units that patients usually see while self-monitoring glucose levels at home.
  5. The International Diabetes Federation and The American College of Endocrinology recommend levels under 6.5% for people with diabetes while the recommended levels by American Diabetes Association for the same is under 7%. Your doctor will tell you the ideal recommended levels based on your condition.

Bottom Line

A good HbA1c percentage means you need to continue whatever you are doing – healthy diet, exercise, taking insulin if necessary and following doctor's plan. You will have to undergo this test four times a year. So don’t your think learning the facts about HbA1c was easier than learning to spell it?

Glossary

Vascular - Related to vessels that conduct and circulate fluids

Sources

1. Florkowski C.(2013).HbA1c as a Diagnostic Test for Diabetes Mellitus – Reviewing the Evidence read more
2. Diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. (2017). read more
3. The A1C test and diabetes. (2014).
read more