What is a HbA1C test and why it’s important to understand.

A HbA1c test is a blood test that essentially determines how well you’re managing your diabetes. It should be done roughly every 2 months, and will give an average of what your blood sugar readings have been within that 8 week period.

The test itself is actually quite interesting. The test is looking for the amount of sugar in the bloodstream, by looking for proteins or specifically, haemoglobin. When sugar enters the bloodstream, it binds to haemoglobin. This creates glycated haemoglobin, the sugar remains on the haemoglobin for the duration of the cell’s life which is roughly 8-12 weeks. Therefore, the more sugar in the blood, the more glycated haemoglobin.

The image below shows roughly what blood glucose reading corresponds to your HbA1c result

Blood Glucose levels on the right, HbA1c results on the left.

My most recent result was 60, so my average BG reading in around 7.7. This is a little high but it’s what I expected given the stress of exams which pushed my readings higher than usual. The target HbA1c lies between 30 and 50, so roughly an average BG reading between 5 and 7.Ā Conditions such as sickle-cell anaemia, low iron levels and heavy bleeding, may affect your HbA1c results.

As with everything with diabetes, if your HbA1c remains high, you are at risk of developing some of the side-affects associated with high blood sugars, such as diabetic foot, peripheral neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy and so on (I’ll be going into detail on each of the negative side-affects of having diabetes in my coming blogs).

The important thing to remember if your HbA1c is high, is to act now to reduce your BG levels on a daily basis. Managing things day-to-day is the easiest way to do so, because if you start thinking too far ahead, it all starts to get a bit overwhelming.

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