Does this test have other names?
Other names: A1C, HbA1C, glycated hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin, glycol hemoglobin
What is a hemoglobin A1C test?
A hemoglobin A1C test measures the number of glucose levels in your blood over the last three months. Glucose is the type of sugar that comes from your daily diet. The cells of the body use it to provide energy to the body. The glucose moves from the bloodstream to the cells by a hormone called insulin. Your body does not make insulin, or cells cannot use it if you have experience diabetes. It creates difficulty for glucose to reach cells. Therefore blood sugar level rises in your body.
Glucose in your blood combines with hemoglobin and forms hemoglobin A1C. Hemoglobin is a protein and the part of red blood cells that contains oxygen. The A1C test determines how much glucose combines with hemoglobin in the percentage form of your red blood cells.
The A1C test indicates the average blood glucose level for the last three months because:
- The glucose attaches to hemoglobin until the red blood cells are alive
- Red blood cells live for about 2-3 months
The tendency of glucose to link with hemoglobin increases if you have high sugar in the blood. The high levels of hemoglobin A1C indicate high average blood glucose over the previous three months. Severe health problems may develop, such as kidney disease, heart disease, and nerve damage due to diabetes.
What is the purpose of the test?
The test helps your doctor to diagnose and screen the disease of diabetes.
- Prediabetes –A type of diabetes that shows higher blood glucose levels than recommended, but the results are not high enough to identify diabetes. Some lifestyle changes, such as physical exercise and eating a healthier diet can help eliminate or resist prediabetes to convert into type 2 diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes – People with type 2 diabetes indicated high blood glucose levels. You have a high blood glucose level that decreases the development of insulin in your body. Your cells fail to create the connection with insulin. It creates problems for glucose to go into cells.
The Hemoglobin 1AC test observes the condition for diabetes or prediabetes. The test checks how successful you are in controlling your blood sugar levels.
Why do I need the hemoglobin A1C test?
The center for disease and control (CDC) recommends the HbA1C test to people who are:
If you are age 45 or older
- You need to repeat the test after every three years if your results are in the recommended range.
- If your test results indicate prediabetes, you should conduct the test after every 1 to 2 years. You can ask your provider how much time you need to get tested.
- If your test results indicate diabetes, you should conduct the Hemoglobin A1C test at least twice a year to observe the medical condition.
If you are under age 45 and have more chances to develop diabetes due to:
- Overweight or obese.
- High risk for type 2 diabetes and prediabetes
- A family history of type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure or high cholesterol levels
- Heart or stroke disease
- Gestational diabetes (A type of diabetes that occur in pregnancy) or having a baby over 9 pounds
- Lack of physical activity
- You are African American, Alaska Native person, American Indian, or Hispanic person. A high risk of diabetes is present in some Pacific Islander and Asian American people.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) - A condition in which ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgen, a male sex hormone that presents in women in a small amount.
You may also need the HbA1C test if you have symptoms of diabetes that include
- Blurry vision
- Weight loss without any effort
- Dry skin
- Increased urination
- Increased thirst and hunger
- Tingling or numbness in the feet or hands
- Frequent infections
What happens during the hemoglobin A1C test?
Your lab care will ask for a blood sample from you. They collect a small quantity of blood in the test tube by injecting a small needle into a vein in your arms. This test usually takes at least 5 minutes.
How do I prepare for the test?
You do not require any preparation for the HbA1C test.
What are the risks of the test?
A blood test has no risk. You may experience pain at the spot where the needle injects. But, its symptoms do not stay for a long time.
What else do I need to know about the HbA1C test?
The HbA1C test does not identify gestational diabetes or type 1 diabetes. The hemoglobin A1C test cannot give an accurate diagnosis of diabetes if you have anemia and other types of blood disorders. Liver disease and kidney failure may also affect your test results. In these specific cases, your provider recommends additional tests to diagnose diabetes and prediabetes.
What are the recommended results for the test?
The Hb1AC test indicates the percentage of your hemoglobin linked with glucose. The test results depend on the person’s age, health, and other factors. You can ask your provider what percentage of HbA1C is suitable for you. The following are the values of the hemoglobin A1C test:
Ideal condition: The A1C value lies below 5.7 %.
Prediabetes: The value ranges from 5.7% to 6.4% tells that you are in a stage of prediabetes.
Diabetes: People who have a high value than 6.5% experience diabetes.
You have to talk with your provider to understand your test results.
Your providers may suggest one or more tests to monitor and diagnose diabetes. You can consult with your doctor here about the test results. If you have a high value of hemoglobin A1C, you may need to take diabetes tests like a blood glucose test or oral glucose tolerance test.
You can book the lab test at UmbrellaMD. It is an online healthcare that offers lab tests, pharmacies, medical imaging, and e-consultation services. You can understand your test results by making an online appointment with a doctor. Register yourself to know about the conditions of your health.