HbA1C in under 5 minutes. Understand what it is and why it's important.
May 29, 2018
HbA1c. It’s a common sight when looking at any literature relating to diabetes. But what is it and why is it useful?
What is it?
HbA1c is known as "Glycated hemoglobin". It's a result of glucose in the blood binding with hemoglobin, the molecule that normally transports oxygen on red blood cells. Since red blood cells on average live for 3-4 months HbA1c gives a good reading of the average blood glucose level over time.
Testing is often done every 3-6 months as it can be used in the diagnosis of diabetes and for tracking how well a patient is controlling their sugar levels.
How does an HbA1c test differ from blood glucose checks?
Blood glucose is a snapshot of the patients’ blood sugar at the time of the test, this could vary for a large number of reasons and is constantly changing throughout the day. HbA1c is a rolling average of the last few months and is a much better picture into the long-term trends of a patient’s blood sugar.
How it's measured
HbA1c levels are measured in a percentage and those percentages can be a good predictor for diabetes:
HbA1c can also be used to estimate average plasma glucose. This let's a healthcare practitioner estimate how well a diabetic is controlling their blood glucose. See the chart below from healthlinkbc.ca:
An elevated HbA1c may be found in adrenal disorders or with corticosteroid medication use. It is important to consider a full history when using HbA1C for diagnostics.
In short HbA1C looks at your blood cells to give a 3 month average for blood glucose levels and can be used to fine tune a medication and diet regimen.