The HbA1c blood test is something that all diabetics should have every few months. But do you know what it is? Here are all the basics so you can be informed.
- HbA1c stands for haemoglobin A1c, also known as glycated haemoglobin.
- What does this mean? HbA1c is formed when glucose sticks to the haemoglobin found in red blood cells.
- The longer the glucose in the blood is elevated (i.e. the longer you have high blood sugar), the higher the HbA1c will be, as more glucose is available to attach to haemoglobin.
- Red blood cells live for 100 to 120 days (3 to 4 months) before they are replaced: therefore, the HbA1c can give a rough estimate of your average blood glucose for the past 3 months.
- The HbA1c can be done without fasting overnight: the test results do not change even if you’ve just eaten.
- The HbA1c is measured as a percentage: 7% or below is the magic number to aim for.
- 7% HbA1c = an average blood sugar of 8.6mmol/l.
- Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics should check their HbA1c every 3 to 6 months depending on the level – every 3 months if your last test was above 7%, every 6 months if you are at 7% or below.
- The higher the HbA1c, the greater the risk of developing diabetes complications.
- All those with diabetes should know their latest HbA1c result and have an HbA1c every few months at their local clinic or hospital. It is a simple blood sample test.