What Is The HbA1c Test?
Diabetes can be divided two sub-syndromes named as type-1- and type-2-diabetes. In both types of diabetes, glucose level of blood can reach extreme levels and body does not generate insulin. However, the main difference is that Type-1 diabetes is a genetic disorder while type-2 diabetes can be diet-related. Type-2 diabetes is a chronic condition that can cause many serious health issues including kidney disease, heart disease, and nerve damage. Type-2 diabetes is becoming more and more common. Reliable diagnostics for diabetes have utmost importance for the prognosis, diagnosis, and management of the condition. Today, the HbA1c test is widely recognized as a reliable diagnostic tool in the diagnosis, prognosis, and management of diabetes. Whether you are already diagnosed with diabetes, experiencing symptoms of diabetes, looking to lower your blood sugar, or just trying to maintain optimal health, the HbA1c test may be a valuable tool for you. Here is what to know about the HbA1c test.
The HbA1c test measures the three-month average amount of blood sugar (glucose) that binds to the hemoglobin in your blood. For true measurement of the HbA1c, the procedure should give the quantitative results. It means that an analyzer device is required for the interpretation.
By the help of HbA1c measurements practitioners can evaluate the patient’s glucose level in past three months and by evaluation the results, they can determine the status of the disease. Basic and main differences between Hb1Ac and simultaneous blood-glucose test is that former shows the average of 3-month-long blood glucose level, latter shows real-time glucose level of blood which is not enough for the evaluation of diagnosis and treatment.
Hemoglobin is the part of the red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Ergo, sampling type should not be serum or plasma but whole blood. When glucose builds up in the blood, it attaches to the hemoglobin in the red blood cells. If the body cannot use the glucose properly, more sugar is bound to the hemoglobin. An HbA1c test shows the average amount of glycated hemoglobin over the past two- or three-month average because that’s usually how long a red blood cell lives. This test is used for the diagnosis, risk assessment, and the consistent monitoring of diabetes.
The HbA1c Testing Procedure and the Interpretation of Results
The HbA1c test requires a small amount of blood specimen to deliver results. With a small needle, a healthcare professional collects a small amount of blood specimen from a vein in your arm or finger. The process typically takes less than five minutes. While you may feel slight pain where the needle was inserted, the symptoms disappear very quickly and there is little risk associated with the procedure
Although the target level and range may differ from person to person, for people without diabetes the normal range of HbA1c level is typically between 4% and 5.6%. A result between 5.7% and 6.4% might indicate a case of prediabetes, while HbA1c levels of 6.5% and higher might indicate diabetes.
For diabetic individuals, a HbA1c level of 6.5% or below is generally accepted as ideal. If you are prediabetic or have been told that you are at risk of developing diabetes, your target level typically needs to be 6% or below.
The HbA1c test is not used for the diagnosis of gestational diabetes and for the diagnosis of diabetes in children. It should also be noted that diseases affecting hemoglobin such as anemia might distort the results of an HbA1c test. Other factors that might affect the results of an HbA1c test include kidney disease, liver disease, high cholesterol levels, and some supplements.
When should I take the HbA1c test?
The best strategy to plan the timing and frequency of the HbA1c test is to work with your healthcare provider. It is generally recommended to get tested at least once a year. However, if your HbA1c level is high or requires more attention, you might need to take a HbA1c test every three to six months. Still, the frequency of testing depends on many personal factors. For example, if you are planning for a baby, have difficult managing your blood sugar levels or had a recent change in your treatment, you might need to get tested more often.
Why is it important to get tested?
Whether you already have diabetes, you have been told you are at risk of developing diabetes or are simply trying to check yourself and maintain optimal health, taking an HbA1c test might be a great idea.
HbA1c proves to be an important and reliable indicator of for the diagnosis and prognosis of diabetes in adults as it provides information on the cumulative glycemic history of the two to three months prior to the time of testing. The results of this test can be used to diagnose diabetes, to assess the risk of type 2 diabetes for a particular person, and to find out how someone is managing their diabetes. An HbA1c test is an incredibly valuable tool for those who are prediabetic or are at high risk due to factors such as obesity, history of heart disease, or high blood pressure. Likewise, an HbA1c test may help those who experience symptoms of diabetes such as increased thirst, increased urination, or blurred vision may to get a diagnosis. Finally, people who already have diabetes can regularly use this test to check if their levels are within range. The results can also successfully show whether you need to adjust your diabetes medicines.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that can cause several serious long-term complications such as kidney disease, coronary heart disease, nerve damage, and stroke. Research shows that HbA1c is also an important indicator of long-term complications associated with diabetes. Indeed, a study identified high levels of HbA1c as an independent risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke in individuals with or without diabetes.
Altogether, the HbA1c test is a reliable tool for the diagnosis and prognosis of type-2 diabetes in adults. In people with diabetes, taking an HbA1c test regularly is an excellent way to monitor your condition, see your progress, and make the necessary changes on time. Regardless of who you are, taking the time to take an HbA1c test can help you take right and timely steps to reduce your risk of developing diabetes and its long-term complications.
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