What is HbA1c Test and Why it is Done?

What is HbA1c Test and Why it is Done?


We know by now that we need to eat the right foods, need to work out, and do stuff that is healthy for us. Because maintaining good health does not happen by accident, it requires work and smart lifestyle choices. But sometimes when we wake up at 6 am to hit the gym before work or shunning the donuts in breakfast, it’s easy to lose sight of for what are we doing all these. So here are some top articles choices that can keep you motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle and keep diseases at bay.

What is HbA1c Test and Why it is Done?

HbA1c or hemoglobin A1c (also known as glycosylated hemoglobin) test is a common test done for diagnosis of type 1 as well as type 2 diabetes and also to monitor the effectiveness of anti-diabetes treatment or how well you are managing your diabetes. The beauty of HbA1c test is that it can give information about your glycemic control for last two to three months, whereas all other tests done in diabetes (such as blood glucose test) detect blood sugar level only at the time of testing (at the time when blood is drawn) and it cannot say anything about blood glucose level few minutes before or few minutes after the test.

HbA1c is glycosylated hemoglobin, i.e. glucose molecules attached to hemoglobin molecule. The higher the blood glucose level, the higher percentage of hemoglobin molecules get attached to glucose and this is used for information about blood glucose level in a person. HbA1c level changes slowly, hence it can provide past blood glucose information for at least 8 to 12 weeks. If blood sugar level goes higher for few hours a day (when blood sugar testing is not done) this can also be detected by HbA1c, because it will be above normal. This is the benefit of using HbA1c, instead of only blood glucose tests. However, for best benefit HbA1c and regular blood glucose testing should be done.

Why HbA1c test is done?

This test is done to diagnose diabetes (both type 1 and type 2 diabetes) and monitor effectiveness of management of diabetes. Experts from American Diabetes Association, the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and the International Diabetes Federation recommend to use HbA1c test for diagnosis of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and prediabetes condition.

Once the diagnosis of diabetes is done, HbA1c test can be used to monitor treatment. Because HbA1c tests can give information of glycemic control for last 2-3 months and a normal HbA1c level indicates that blood glucose level is normal for last 2-3 months and treatment is adequate. If only blood sugar level (fasting and post prandial) is used for monitoring treatment of diabetes, it can detect blood glucose level only at the time of testing and cannot give information about blood glucose level for the whole day. Hence, blood glucose level may show normal results, but overall glycemic control may not be adequate, because blood glucose level may rise when it is not tested. Hence, using HbA1c is recommended for monitoring diabetes management, instead of blood glucose level.

How frequently HbA1c test should be done?

  • If you have type 1 diabetes HbA1c test should be done every 3 to 4 months or 3 to 4 times a year.
  • If you have type-2 diabetes and not using insulin and your blood glucose level is within normal limit, HbA1c should be done twice a year.
  • If you have type-2 diabetes and using insulin or if you are facing problem in managing diabetes with oral hypoglycemic drugs, HbA1c test should be done every 3 months or 4 times a year, to cover whole year (as HbA1c can provide information about glycemic control for three months).
  • If you have prediabetes, HbA1c should be done once a year.
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