How is HbA1c tested

How is HbA1c tested?

HbA1c test is performed to obtain the average blood glucose levels of a person over the course of the past 3 months, the average lifespan of a red blood cell. In an HbA1c test, the presence of HbA1c or glycated hemoglobin, that is hemoglobin combined with glucose, in the blood is tested to determine the average blood glucose levels of the person in the past few weeks. Diabetics are tested for HbA1c every 3 to 6 months. It gives an idea of how good the blood control system of the body has been performing.

What is HbA1c?

The blood glucose bonds itself with hemoglobin of the red blood cells when the blood sugar levels are high. Glucose usually attaches itself with Hemoglobin A and the Hemoglobin combined with glucose is called Glycated Hemoglobin or HbA1c.

Since red blood cells can live up to 120 days, the HbA1c test result will have a direct relation with the blood sugar levels of the previous 12-15 weeks. The A1c levels obtained from these tests are corresponding to the amount of glucose attached to the hemoglobin.

HbA1c test result

How is the test conducted?

HbA1c is measured through a blood test. A blood sample of a few millimetres is obtained and sent to a laboratory for testing. Since it is not related to the current glucose levels, it does not require any fasting. The glycated hemoglobin can be tested using the following methods:

  • Enzymatic
  • Immunoassay
  • Capillary Electrophoresis
  • Boronate affinity chromatography
  • High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)

Why is the HbA1c test needed?

This test can be prescribed by a doctor to diagnose or monitor the patient’s diabetes. 

Increased levels of A1c in the blood may be an indication of the onset of diabetes in an earlier non-affected person.

People already affected by diabetes can use this test to evaluate the performance of their blood sugar control. Decreased levels of A1c stipulate that the blood sugar control system of the body has been performing satisfyingly. On the other hand, increased A1c levels call for a change in the diabetes treatment or management plan.

HbA1c range

The result of an HbA1c test is expressed as a percentage(%). 

  • The HbA1c normal range is less than 5.7%.
  • The HbA1c range between 5.7% and 6.4% indicates that the person is at a high risk of getting diabetes. It is a condition called prediabetes.
  • HbA1c range of 6.5% and more means that the person is suffering from diabetes.

HbA1c test result

Relationship between HbA1c levels and blood sugar levels in mg/dL

eAG is the average glucose in the blood expressed in terms of mg/dL. The following table gives the conversion of certain values of A1c levels to eAG. eAG is the average glucose level expressed in mg/dL.

A1c levels eAG
4 68
5.7 97
6.4 137
7.0 154
8.0 183
9.0 212

Benefits of HbA1c test over other blood sugar tests:

  • HbA1c blood test does not require fasting before taking the test. It also does not call for any special preparations before the test. It can also be performed at any time of the day. Therefore, it is much more convenient than its counterparts.
  • It provides an average blood glucose level for the past few weeks and it enables the doctor to understand how effectively the diet and exercise plan and medications have been working. 
  • Apart from being a reliable blood glucose test, it also is an effective test for the blood glucose control system. Diabetics are advised to take the HbA1c blood test every three months if possible, as it can help manage diabetes effectively.

Is high HbA1c level a cause for concern?

HbA1c levels outside the normal range are usually caused by fluctuating blood sugar levels with an underlying diabetic condition, but these levels can also be affected by other factors such as:

  • Iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia can cause falsely high levels of blood sugar levels.
  • Blood loss or blood donation can result in lower levels in HbA1c tests.
  • Some people have a hemoglobin variant other than hemoglobin A, which can result in lower levels of HbA1c. This condition is called hemoglobinopathy.
  • Some medications and supplements can also affect the results. These include iron, vitamin B12 and folate supplements, erythropoietin therapy, aspirin treatment, vitamin C or E supplements and certain antiviral and antimicrobial medicines.
  • Pregnancy, infections and illnesses are other factors which can affect the HbA1c results.

HbA1c test result

Upon signing up with Twin, you can know your HbA1c levels with the help of a blood test that is conducted at your home. We will then assign one of our best doctors to walk you through the report and the next steps on how it can be lowered to a non-diabetic range to ultimately reverse your Diabetes.

One Reply to How is HbA1c tested?

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