What is Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) Test for Diabetes?

In order to effectively manage diabetes, it is said that you need to keep the blood sugar level and the HbA1c levels under check. So, what is this HbA1c level? Is there a test for the same? The answers to all such questions shall be answered in the article that will follow. Join in for the article “What is Hemoglobin or HbA1c Test for Diabetes?”

Table of Contents

What is the Test About?

Let us understand first why such a test is needed for diabetes patients in the first place. Well, as we know, it is very important for diabetes patients to continuously monitor their blood glucose levels. This test helps to monitor the blood glucose levels over the last two to three months. This test is not only useful in analyzing whether you have diabetes but also helps in understanding if any extra medication is required by the diabetes patient.

The test is known by different names such as HbA1c, glycated hemoglobin test, as well as glycohemoglobin.

What Does the HbA1c Test Tell You?

hba1c test

As per the results of the test, one can find out whether one is diabetic or not.

  • For healthy people, the hemoglobin A1c levels should be between 4% and 5.6%.
  • If your A1c levels are somewhere around 5.7% to 6.4%, it signifies that you have a higher risk of contracting diabetes.
  • Anything above 6.4% of the A1c level will mean that you already have diabetes.

Let’s understand the good and bad level of hb(A1C) by below chart:

a1c chart (what is a good & bad a1c level)

For conducting the test, a sample of the blood is usually taken from the patient’s arms. Also, in a few known cases, a sample of a single drop of blood may also be taken in order to check the level of hemoglobin present in the blood.

How Does the HbA1c Test Work?

Hemoglobin is the protein found in the red blood cells of the blood which is also responsible for the red color of our blood. The main task of hemoglobin also includes carrying oxygen to the different parts of the body. HbA1c takes place when glucose is bonded with hemoglobin in the blood. This bonding of the protein hemoglobin with glucose in the bloodstream is also known as glycation. Hence, the test shows how much glucose has been bonded through the process of glycation.

So, now the question arises “Why does the HbA1c test show the average blood glucose levels over a period of two to three months?” Well, the answer is simple. The red blood cells to which the glucose binds have an average life of around two to three months.

When Should You Go for the HbA1c Test?

It is absolutely necessary to understand when should a person go for the test of this kind.

This test is ordered when a person seems to be suffering from signs of diabetes or high levels of blood glucose level such as increased thirst, urination, blurred vision, unexpected weight loss, increased appetite, and other symptoms.

However, if you are overweight and you fulfill the below-mentioned criteria, you should go for the HbA1c test as well:

  • You have a history of heart-related conditions.
  • You are a woman who has Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
  • You have the problem of high blood pressure.
  • Either of your parents and siblings is a patient of diabetes.
  • If you are someone who has high levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol.
  • You do not get to exercise regularly due to a sedentary lifestyle.

In fact, as per the American Diabetes Association, if you are a person who is overweight, then you should go for the test at least once after you reach 45 years of age. In case everything is healthy, there should be regular tests done at least once in a period of three months.

What is the Difference Between Glucose Level and HbA1c Level?

Many people confuse the HbA1c Level with the blood glucose level in the body. However, there is a difference between the two.

While the blood glucose level is the amount of glucose that is present in the blood at that particular point of time, the HbA1c level is the average blood glucose over a period of two to three months. By knowing what has been the average blood glucose in your body over the time frame, you are in a better position to assess whether or not you are susceptible to diabetes. As explained above, you can understand if you are pre-diabetic or not and can take steps accordingly. If you are already diabetic, necessary steps to better manage the condition can be taken.

Limitations of the Test

Sometimes, the result of the HbA1c tests can go wrong. We need to be aware of such circumstances. Following are the situations when the test results could be inaccurate:

  • Recent illness can lead to a temporary increase in the blood glucose levels. in such a scenario, the results of the test cannot be relied upon.
  • You should not go for the test when you are pregnant.
  • Also, the test should not be done by those who are suffering from anemia. The reason is there may not be an adequate amount of hemoglobin present in the body of such a person.

We hope that the above post has been helpful in answering the questions about hemoglobin, its role in diabetes, and the relevance of HbA1c test in effectively managing diabetes.

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