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.
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.