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Hemoglobin A1c Test

The Hemoglobin A1c Test measures the amount of glucose in the blood and can be key in identifying and diagnosing type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

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The Hemoglobin A1c Test measures the amount of glucose in the blood and can be key in identifying and diagnosing type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In addition, the A1c test can help those already living with diabetes monitor and manage their health. A higher A1c level means your body should be processing sugar more efficiently. This Hemoglobin A1c Test monitors your average blood sugar level over the course of 8 to 12 weeks and determines what percentage of hemoglobin is coated in sugar or “glycated”.

Hemoglobin A1c (also called glycated hemoglobin or glycosylated hemoglobin) is a type of hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. It carries oxygen from the lungs to other organs and tissues in the body, where it releases it so they can use it. Hemoglobin A1c is the most common test used to diagnose and manage diabetes.

For people with diabetes, too much glucose (sugar) in the blood can reduce the amount of oxygen-rich hemoglobin A1c available for cells. This can lead to serious complications like heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.

What is Hemoglobin A1c?

Our hemoglobin A1c blood test measures the amount of sugar attached to your red blood cells. The more sugar that’s attached, the higher your blood sugar levels.

The hemoglobin A1c test monitors blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It also diagnoses diabetes and monitors response to treatment and complications of diabetes, such as kidney disease.

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, we recommend getting an A1c test at least twice a year. In addition, if you’ve had problems controlling your blood sugar levels, we recommend that you get tested once every few months or even more often.

Normal ranges for hemoglobin A1c are:

  • Normal: Less than 5.7%
  • Prediabetes: Between 5.7% and 6.4%
  • Diabetes: Over 6.5%

Why You Need Hemoglobin A1c Tests

Hemoglobin A1c tests are used to diagnose diabetes and monitor its treatment. It also helps to diagnose prediabetes and gestational diabetes.

People with diabetes or prediabetes need regular hemoglobin A1c tests so that their doctors can adjust their treatment plan if required. For example, if your hemoglobin A1c level is too high, your doctor may suggest that you change medication or increase the amount of exercise you do each day.

Who Should Have a Hemoglobin A1c Test?

Many doctors recommend that adults over age 45 get screened for diabetes every three years. But some experts say you should get tested once every year if you’re at risk for developing diabetes, including:

  • You’re overweight or obese, especially if you’ve gained more than 10 pounds since age 18
  • You’ve had gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more (or an average birth weight less than 5 pounds)

In addition, you should have a hemoglobin A1c test if:

  • You have diabetes. Hemoglobin A1c is one of the most important tests to check in people with diabetes. It’s used to help determine whether you’re at risk of having complications from diabetes, such as eye disease and heart disease.
  • You have prediabetes. If you’re at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, checking your hemoglobin A1c level regularly can help determine whether or not treatment is needed.
  • You have high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure increases your risk for serious health problems such as stroke and heart attack. Your doctor will want to see if your hemoglobin A1c level has worsened over time to determine whether treatment is needed.

How Often Should I Have it Done?

The hemoglobin A1c test is usually done yearly if your blood sugar is well controlled. If it’s not, you may do the test more often.

If you’re pregnant and have diabetes, you’ll need to have your A1c tested more often than other women because of the risk of developing preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) and gestational diabetes (high blood sugar during pregnancy).

To get an accurate result, you must do the hemoglobin A1c test on your blood sample at the same time of day as when you ate your last meal before the test. That’s because glucose levels in your bloodstream rise after eating and then fall back to normal within a few hours to a day or two.

The hemoglobin A1c test can help you, and your doctor evaluates how well you control your blood sugar. If you have diabetes, higher A1c levels are associated with higher risks of complications such as heart disease and stroke. Conversely, lower levels indicate better control of your blood sugar levels and lower risks for complications of diabetes.

Understanding the Test Results

The A1c test is done by collecting several drops of blood from your fingertip and sending them to a lab for analysis. The results are reported as a percentage, considering the average hemoglobin concentration over the last 2 to 3 months. For example, if you have an A1c level of 6%, 6% of your hemoglobin molecules are attached to glucose

Normal results are between 4% and 5.6%, depending on age, race, sex, and other factors such as recent diet changes or exercise routines. An abnormally high reading may indicate type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, or impaired glucose tolerance.

Our Hemoglobin A1c Test results can help you make changes that will improve your health.