HbA1c blood test
This test is one of several diabetes tests, and HbA1c refers to diabetes or glycosylated hemoglobin. An HbA1c blood test can indicate whether the blood sugar levels have been higher than normal over the past few months by measuring the red blood cell binding glucose.
Red blood cells contain a protein called hemoglobin (Hb) that carries oxygen to the cells. Sugar in the bloodstream combines with hemoglobin in the red blood cells, forming hemoglobin, so people with normal blood glucose levels have some hemoglobin in their blood.
However, if blood glucose levels are consistently high, then a higher percentage of red blood cells will be of diabetic hemoglobin, the HbA1c test measures the percentage of diabetic hemoglobin compared to normal hemoglobin.
Doctors usually recommend that people with diabetes have an HbA1c test approximately every 3-6 months, as it indicates how well their overall glucose levels are being controlled.
Complications of diabetes
Higher HbA1c test scores are associated with an increased risk of complications of diabetes.
If you take an HbA1c test to help diagnose diabetes, diabetes is diagnosed at or above 6.5% (48 mmol/mol), a repeat test is often recommended to confirm the result, especially if you have no clear symptoms.
Your blood glucose control over the past few months will be considered good.
Most physicians recommend that people with diabetes seek this result, either if their blood glucose levels are above 7%. Your blood sugar levels may not have been well controlled recently. So your doctor will want to talk about your current treatments and if any adjustments are needed.
Most diabetes tests require measuring the blood sugar level when the patient is fasting and does not eat or drink, for a period of at least 8 hours before performing this test.
In the case of HbA1c, this is not all the trouble, and the patient can take this test whenever he or she wants.