HbA1c or glycated haemoglobin or glycohaemoglobin plays an important role in the health of a diabetic person. HbA1c test is conducted to monitor the blood sugar levels in a span of 2-3 months. Getting the HbA1c test is crucial for diabetics as it helps them find whether the levels are in range and helps a doctor to adjust their medicines if required. This test can also help in diagnosing diabetes in a healthy person. We spoke to Dr. Mukesh Mehra, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Patparganj, Delhi to know more about HbA1c test and how it is done.
What is HbA1c?
HbA1c is basically an abbreviation for glycated haemoglobin.
- Hb = Haemoglobin
- A1c = Type of haemoglobin
- HbA1c = Glycated form of haemoglobin
Glycated haemoglobin is formed when glucose particles bind with haemoglobin. This binding is proportional to the quantity of glucose present in the blood. This test, thus, helps in measuring the concentration of blood sugar or glucose in the blood. Red blood cells thus become sweeter with increasing sweetness in the blood. In a nutshell, when the levels of glycated haemoglobin are high, it means the person is diabetic. Low levels indicate a healthy, non-diabetic person.
What long does HbA1c last?
Haemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells and responsible for giving the red colour to your blood. The lifetime of haemoglobin live for 3-4 months and get renewed thereafter. The HbA1c test measures the average glucose levels over the last 3-4 months. There are a lot of myths surrounded around diabetes that you should ignore.
Why HbA1c should be monitored in a diabetic patient?
As already explained, HbA1c measures the concentration of glycated haemoglobin which is blood sugar attached to haemoglobin. Thus, it is considered as a reference parameter to monitor diabetes condition. It helps in recording all the ups and down in glucose levels to find the average. The aim of this test is to:
- Have a brief view of the glycemic control
- Monitor the condition and aid modification in treatments including anti-diabetic medication, insulin, exercises, etc.
- Analyse the risk of developing diabetes complications
Therefore, a diabetic person should get HbA1c test done every 3-4 months to comply with the blood sugar levels and prevent complications that may arise due to increased levels. If required, they must consult the doctor for tips to lower down the levels.
How is HbA1c test conducted?
If not every 3 or 4 months, people with diabetes must get this test done at least twice in a year. The best part about this test is that it can be done at any time of the day and fasting is not required.
The HbA1c results are shown in percentage. This value is the percentage of glycated haemoglobin out of the total. While 4 to 5.6% is normal, 6.5% and above show a high percentage of glycated haemoglobin in the body. The parameters taken into consideration while conducting this test are:
- Age of the patient
- Type of diabetes they have
- The treatment they are following(medicine, insulin, etc.)
- Complications associated with their condition.
Keeping glycated haemoglobin levels in control is very important to control diabetes condition. One should follow healthy lifestyle habits, take prescribed medicines on time and getting yourself tested at regular intervals can manage the condition.
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