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Hemoglobin A1c test

Heart disease is a common complication for diabetes patients. For an early assessment of diabetes and also to detect risk of developing heart disease, the American Diabetes Association recommend Hemoglobin A1c test.

High blood glucose (sugar) levels over time can lead to increased deposits of fatty materials on the insides of blood vessel walls. These deposits may affect blood flow, which increases the chance of clogging and hardening of blood vessels and leads to heart disease. Hemoglobin A1c test reflects blood sugar levels. If non-diabetic, the test result would be around 5%. Diabetic persons aim for a score of 7% or lower. However, the health care provider would discuss the most appropriate target that is individual specific.

In general, if the test score is 8% or more, it indicates necessary changes in diet, exercise and medicines in order to manage the glucose levels. Higher A1C level, poorer blood sugar control and higher is the risk of diabetes complications. As the level rises above 6.5%, correspondingly the risks rise.

The Hemoglobin A1c test is a measure of blood sugar control over the past 2 to 3 months. There is a valid reason for specifically measuring it for the last three months. The life of red blood cells (which is measured as part of the test) is three months. By measuring this part, a good indication of the average blood glucose over the previous 2-3 months can be obtained.

The lab test can be done in two ways, a quick finger stick or a sample of blood from vein. Compared to other tests for measuring blood glucose levels, Hemoglobin A1c test is preferred to assist in predicting the risks of coronary heart disease among diabetes.

  • Diabetes is a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The risk increases with A1c levels.

  • Hemoglobin A1C is an important early clinical marker of disease risk.

  • Most doctors consider A1C level the best method to check how well a person is controlling his or her diabetes.

  • Used as a screening test for diabetes, American Diabetes Association has approved the test as a screening tool.

  • Urine tests or daily finger sticks are reliable only for limited period as blood sugar can vary depending on time of day, activity levels, hormone changes etc.

  • Hemoglobin A1C tests measure average blood glucose over the past two to three months. Hemoglobin cells are constantly dying and regenerating. They have a life span of approximately three months.

  • Fasting or any special preparation is not required for Hemoglobin A1c test. This test can be done any time during the day, even after a meal.

  • Measuring and keeping blood sugar close to normal is essential to prevent complications of diabetes.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: May 26, 2024