Hba1c blood test

HbA1c test: Gold standard test for diabetes

HbA1c test stands for glycated or glycosylated hemoglobin test. This test helps measure average blood sugar levels for the past 3 months. This test is essential for every person who has diabetes. Other names of this test are glycohemoglobin test, A1c test, or simply A1c.

Hemoglobin is the protein in the red blood cells that help in transportation of oxygen across the body. Sugar (or glucose) present in the blood combines with one type of hemoglobin (hemoglobin A), this combination molecule is called glycated hemoglobin. A red blood cell lives up to 120 days, or 4 months. Hence, measuring this combination molecule gives a fair estimate of your blood sugar levels in the last 2-3 months.         

Keep your diabetes in check with an HbA1c test.

Importance of HbA1c Test

Do you regularly measure your fasting and after meal blood sugar to keep a check on your diabetes? Think that is enough? Not actually! Though the fasting and post meal tracking of blood glucose is important, these tests can only check your blood sugar at a certain point of time. Their results might vary depending on what you had eaten over the last night or in the previous meal. However, the HbA1c test looks at the 3-month data and cannot be biased.

For persons having diabetes, HbA1c numbers give a fair idea of how controlled their diabetes is. As per scientific evidence, having a smaller HbA1c number means lesser risk of developing complications due to diabetes. Raised HbA1c value has also been regarded as an independent risk factor for heart disease and stroke in people with or without diabetes.    


Why is the HbA1c test done?

The HbA1c test is used for diagnosis as well as monitoring purposes. Your doctor suggests an HbA1c test to see whether your diabetes is controlled or not. Pre-diabetics, people having borderline diabetes, are also advised to get tested to check how stable their blood sugar levels are.


Frequency of getting tested
In general, people having diabetes and pre-diabetes should get their HbA1c tested every 3 months. If you are healthy but have a family history of diabetes or think your lifestyle makes you prone to develop diabetes, you should get an HbA1c test done every 6 months. You can consult a doctor on how frequently you should take a test for your health condition.


HbA1c Results
The results of the A1c test are presented as a percentage. The test result shows the amount of hemoglobin that glucose has bound to in your blood.

For diagnostic purposes, the test results may be as follows:

  • Normal/ Healthy: Below 5.7%
  • Pre-diabetes: 5.7–6.4%
  • Diabetes: 6.5% or more

There are certain factors and some medical conditions that can change the HbA1c result slightly and even lead to a higher reading. Some conditions that can cause a false A1c number include:

  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Recent blood loss or transfusion
  • Low iron levels
  • Certain blood-related conditions

Your doctor is the best guide to analyse the results.


 HbA1c Target levels
A healthy person who does not have diabetes should target for an HbA1c score below 5.7 percent.

If a person has an HbA1c score of 6.5 percent or higher, it’s likely that he /she has diabetes. During treatment for diabetes, different people will have different targets, based on factors such as their age and medicines they are taking. In general, diabetics might be asked to keep their HbA1c result below 7 percent. Older adults having diabetes and diabetics who might also be at risk of low sugar levels (hypoglycemia), can be recommended an HbA1c number of around 8%.   

Test preparation for HbA1c

Unlike fasting or post meal blood sugar tests, no special preparation is needed for an HbA1c test. You do not need to fast. You can give a test sample at any time of the day. Also, do not miss your medicines on the day of getting tested. 


COVID-19 and HbA1c
The entire pandemic situation has made managing diabetes well more important than ever for people having diabetes. HbA1c gives you a sneak peek into how well your blood glucose has been doing over the past 2-3 months. Look for trusted labs and safe services when you have to take an HbA1c test. Have to get tested and not sure where to get it done? Book an HbA1c test online and get tested within the comfort of your home.

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Must follow winter tips for diabetics

Winter has almost arrived in most parts of the country. With the changing season, everyone needs a little more care, a little more attention. If you or a loved one has diabetes, this becomes all the more important since diabetes is a chronic health condition that needs constant support and efforts in every season.

Winter and diabetes

As per a study, most people with diabetes could have higher HbA1c levels in winter as compared to the summer. This occurs because the body tends to release more glucose to keep itself warm in winter; but for this ends up being more harmful than helpful for those having diabetes.


Here are 8 practical tips diabetics must know for a healthy winter: 

1. Eat healthy without going overboard

Cold weather in winter may make you prone to comfort eating. Remember, the basics of mindful eating do not change with the changing weather. Avoid processed and deep fried food items. If you face craving for some hot ghee parathas with butter, opt for cooking that at home. This helps avoid unhealthy, refined oil in the outside food. 

2. Store your insulin and diabetes devices out of the cold

Similar to extreme heat, extreme cold may also affect your insulin and diabetes devices such as insulin pens, pumps, and glucometers. Avoid exposing your insulin solutions to temperature below 34 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezing temperatures can cause insulin to break down and lose its effectiveness. Your glucometer working might also be affected. Ensure it is protected in a safe case.

3. Don’t skip your health tests and expert consultations

As mentioned earlier, the season changes need you to monitor your blood sugar closely. If you experience any worsening of symptoms or a new symptom appears, consult with your healthcare team. You might need adjustments in your medicines and diet to help keep your sugar numbers within the desired range.

Check out our Diabetes monitoring profiles.

4. Keep an eye on your skin, especially feet

Dry air in the winter can cause your skin to lose moisture and crack. A cracked skin is more prone to wounds and infections. Take extra care of your feet. Keep checking the area in between the fingers. If you notice any injury or infection that isn’t healing or taking too long to heal, talk to a diabetes expert immediately.

5. Boost immunity to stay safe from infections

Health issues like flu, bronchitis, sore throat, etc, are quite commonly encountered in winter, and can cause diabetics to get complications or a more severe disease. Get your flu vaccination done to help keep yourself safe against the flu. Wash your hands often with soap and water, or keep hand sanitizer handy while going out. If you do get sick, follow sick day rules provided by your doctor.

Sick days can cause stress and result in blood sugar fluctuations. Amid COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to not ignore any kind of fever. As per experts, people with diabetes have an increased risk of getting a severe COVID-19 illness. Ensure to get tested well in time to seek early care.

Work on your body’s natural defense system as well. Include herbal teas and sugar free chyawanprash in your daily diet to boost immunity.

6. Keep your hands warm

Cold weather can leave you with cold hands, making testing your blood glucose more difficult. It gets a bit difficult to bring blood drop while pricking. Wearing hand gloves is one of the easiest ways to keep your hands warm. If your hands are cold before testing, warm them up on a warm mug or with warm soapy water.

7. Keep yourself physically active

Getting out of the cozy blanket for exercising might not appear as a good idea. However, keeping active helps increase blood circulation and makes you feel warmer. Don’t skip your exercise routine. Continue to keep yourself moving during the winter season to help keep your blood sugar levels under control. You can even choose to work out at home.


Feeling fatigued to work out? Check your health within the comfort of your home.

8. Use hot water bags correctly

Avoid keeping hot water bags in direct contact with bare skin. Your skin sensitivity may be impaired in people with diabetes due to diabetic neuropathy. Keep a barrier, such as a hand towel or a folded cotton dupatta, between the skin and the water bag.

Takeaway You can enjoy this cold weather in the best of your health by simply following these winter health hacks. Ensure to go out only when necessary. Stay at home. Stay safe. And, learn to keep your diabetes in check.

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Diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterised by high blood glucose due to lack of insulin secretion or action or both. Today, the ratio of diabetes is rapidly increasing worldwide, and India would be ranking number one by 2030. Not only adults’ toddlers and kids are also at risk of getting diabetes

Let us understand in simple terms why Diabetes occurs and how it can be prevented or managed.

The food we eat is digested and converted to glucose, which is then utilised for energy production (or stored in liver and Muscles) through a chain of process mediated by insulin hormone secreted by Pancreas.

Change in production levels or action of insulin hormone leads to increase sugar levels in blood which is termed as hyperglycaemia (excess blood glucose) or hypoglycaemia (sudden decrease in the levels of blood glucose). Increased blood sugar level is not a one-day game it starts years before in your body but after a certain time it shows it’s presence by damaging some of our systems. Many a times apparently visible healthy individuals with good lifestyle may also have disturbed glucose levels.

Diabetes is only caused by eating too much sugar is one of the biggest health myths.

What can trigger Diabetes in an individual?

  • Excess intake of carbohydrates
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Junk food
  • Overeating
  • Obesity
  • Genetic factors
  • Environmental factors
  • Hormonal disturbance in body
  • Poor sleep

In hyperglycaemia fasting blood sugar > 126 mg/dL, Post-prandial > 200 mg/dL and HbA1c > 5.7 whereas in hypoglycaemia blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dL.

When fasting glucose is between 100-125 mg/dl and /or PP is 140-199mg/dl this is termed as prediabetes. Normal blood glucose as defined American Diabetes Association is Fasting less than 100 and PP less than 140 mg/dl.

The bitter truth is that Diabetes develops silently for years in your body. Most of the time people surprisingly come to know during some or other health check-up that they are affected with irregular blood sugar.

For consistent and accurate monitoring of your blood sugar levels at regular intervals check out the DIABETES tests and profiles offered by Metropolis here

Signs and symptoms of hyperglycaemia –

  • Increased thirst
  • Lack of appetite
  • Frequent urination
  • Frequent infections
  • Feeling tired or fatigue
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Numbness or tingling in limbs
  • Poor vision

Signs and symptoms of hypoglycaemia –

  • Fatigue
  • Excess hunger
  • Shakiness
  • Bouts of confusion
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headache
  • Excessive sweating

To manage or prevent hypoglycaemia, keep an eye on blood sugar levels at regular intervals and take proper balance diet and exercise. Known diabetics who are on medication must carry sugar/candy pouch for contingencies.

If not taken care of in time diabetes will damage your vital organs like kidney, nervous system, heart, eyes, brain and would lead to fatal diseases like heart attack, renal failure and stroke.

3.4 Million deaths in India occur due to high blood sugar. So, if you consistently see any of the above signs and symptoms particularly those mentioned for hyperglycaemia please visit a doctor and get your sugar test done and take a proper diet and exercise guidance from qualified dietitian to prevent yourself from this silent killer.

Learn more about Types of Diabetes and its Signs & Symptoms:

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