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HbA1c: Diabetic Blood Test

If you’ve been diagnosed as a diabetic you are, or soon will be, quite familiar with a blood test called the HbA1c, or A1c for short.

The HbA1c test is used to monitor your diabetes. It is an average of your blood glucose levels over time and gives you a good idea of how well you are controlling your diabetes.

The A1c is a blood test. Blood is drawn and (usually) sent to the lab for the test. Some doctor offices now have ”instant A1c” test equipment in their offices.

The basic science behind the A1c works something like this: the red blood cells in your body pick up glucose that is flowing in your blood. This is normal and happens to everyone. If you have high levels of glucose in your blood, your red blood cells pick up more glucose than normal. The shorthand “HbA1c” stands for glycosylated hemoglobin.

Red blood cells live for around 3 months in your body. At any time, old red cells are dying and new ones are being formed. The older red blood cells have “picked up” more glucose molecules over their life than the younger red blood cells. By drawing blood and examining the amount of glucose bound to the red blood cells, the lab can come up with an average of how much glucose has been available in your blood for the red blood cells to “pick up” and bind to over the previous three months or so. This is why most endocrinologists will schedule A1c’s quarterly.

Non-diabetic people have A1c levels around or under 5.0. The American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics keep their A1c under 7%. I personally think this is too high. There are studies that suggest that levels under 5.5 are best to reduce complications from diabetes developing.

I’m shooting for an A1c of around 5.5 or lower.

A few things to keep in mind:

Normal lab measurements can vary from lab to lab, so it’s important to know if your samples have been tested by the same lab each time.

A1c’s are averages. If you tend to have really high blood sugar, followed by really low blood sugar, your A1c might average out to a good number, but the highs are doing damage. It’s the same theory that if you have one foot in boiling water and one foot in freezing water you are, on average, comfortable.

While it’s not perfect, the A1c is a very important number in the diabetic’s life and it’s vital that you know your A1c, understand what it represents, and have a new one done on a regular basis. If you have a history of being in good control, your doctor may not order an A1c every quarter, but I would recommend having one done twice a year at a minimum.

Source: http://www.t2faq.com/type-2-diabetes/monitoring/hba1c-diabetic-blood-test.html »

 

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