Hemoglobin A1C (HA1C):
Hemoglobin A1C (HA1C)
HA1C is a test used in patients who have already been diagnosed with Diabetes in the past and is considered the gold standard of your diabetes control and sugar exposure. HA1C is commonly used by your doctor as a report card and specifically is used to tell them how well his or her treatments are working for you and/or how well you are following their recommendations and treatment plan.
It is expected that blood sugar levels will rise and fall throughout the day with things such as meals and exercise. However, what really matters to patients with Diabetes is their average blood sugar level (what your blood sugar level is at for most of the day). This is exactly what the HA1C test measures. Simply, HA1C measures the amount of sugar you have stuck on your red blood cells (the cells that travel in your blood and carry oxygen around to you body). When your blood sugar levels are high there is a greater amount of sugar in the blood to stick to these cells in your body. Because red blood cells have a lifetime of around 3 months (120 days) before needing to be replaced, the HA1C test measures an average blood sugar level over the past 3 months time. It is a fantastic long term measure of sugar control and as patients and doctors know there is no way to hide poor sugar control and poor Diabetes control with this test.
The following chart is a great summary of HA1C values and the average blood sugar levels that the patient has had for the past 3 months time.
HA1C% Average Blood Glucose (sugar) mg/dl
Better control of blood sugar levels and lower HA1C values have been shown to lead to better long term health in Diabetic patients including less vision loss, less damage to nerves, less kidney disease and less heart disease. All great things to prevent!
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