Testing for Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) . Understanding Sugar Diabetes

Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test is used to measure long-term glucose control. Glucose attaches to the hemoglobin in red blood cells in portion to the average blood sugar level over the lifespan of the red cell which is about three month long. Measuring HbA1c levels every three month is the best way to track long-term glucose control in sugar diabetes management plan. This test is also known as glycated hemoglobin, or glycosylated hemoglobin, or glycohemoglobin, the choice is yours.


What is hemoglobin? Hemoglobin is the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Hemoglobin cell have a lifespan of about three to four month. Some sugar flowing in the bloodstream sticks to the hemoglobin cell and can be measured. It happens in all people without regard to sugar diabetes. The ammount of sugar that sticks to the hemoglobin cell reflects the average blood sugar level during that period. This test can be done in a laboratory using HbAlc test. The HbAlc test indicates not the present state of blood glucose level but show us the level of control over the previous few months.

Hemoglobin A1c can be measured at any time and normally blood sample from a finger prick is enough. Some methods of measuring glycated hemoglobin Alc give immediate results, other can take a day or two. Non-diabetic level of glycosylated hemoglobin Alc in people without sugar diabetes is about 4 to 6 percent. Regretfully, even with intensive diabetes treatment, few patients can echieve such a level without running high risk of frequent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level). Very ambitious goal for a child with Type 1 sugar diabets is glycated hemoglobin Alc level between 6 and 7 percent. Alc levels between 7 and 8 percent are very good. When you see Alc levels in a range 8 to 10 percent it means you have to improve blood glucose control. Alc levels above 10 percent are red flags!

Patiennts with sugar diabetes and especially children with Type 1 sugar diabetes should have their glycohemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) tested at least every three months with the results neatly recorded into the logbook. Take notes about different lab and different methods of HbA1c testing. Hemoglobin A1c test results may vary in different laboratories.

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