What is HbA1c?

Hemoglobin is a compound in the red blood cells that transports oxygen. HbA1c is a particular type of hemoglobin that glucose can bind to.
The measurement of HbA1c, therefore, is the measuring of the amount of glucose binding to hemoglobin in the red blood cell.

How is this test done?

A blood sample for this test can be given at any time of the day without any relation to meals, since the result indicates the level of HbA1c in the blood during the previous 4 to 6 weeks.

How is the determination of a hemoglobin useful in the control of diabetes?

Red blood cells have insulin-independent transporters on their surface, and so they do not require insulin for the uptake of glucose. When glucose molecules attach to hemoglobin A molecules, HbA1c is formed by the process of glycation.
Therefore, (a) the higher the level of glucose in the plasma, the level of HbA1c will also be high, and (b), the longer the period of high level of glucose in the plasma, the higher the level of HbA1c.

Is an everyday change in the level of glucose in blood reflected in the HbA1c level?

Once the sugar is attached to hemoglobin, it stays there for the life of the red cell, which is about 120 days. Since HbA1c levels depend primarily on time-averaged blood glucose levels, HbA1c levels provide a reflection of glycemic control during the past 4 to 6 weeks.

What is the importance of this test?

As a key measure of glycemic control, HbA1c testing is becoming one of the most frequently-done laboratory tests for diabetic check-ups.

Why should more people know about this test?

The publication of landmark clinical studies- Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), and UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS)- have shown that HbA1c estimation not only helps in maintaining a tight glycemic control, but lowering HbA1c can delay or prevent the development of serious complications of the kidneys (nephropathy), eyes (retinopathy), and nerve diseases (neuropathy) in people with diabetes.

How can HbA1c test result help people with diabetes?

If you are a diabetic and know the result of your HbA1c test, you can take an active role in your diabetes management. If your test result of HbA1c is close to normal, your treatment plan is probably working and it is likely that the blood sugar level is under control. If your HbA1c level is high, you must immediately consult your doctor for advice.

Updated: September, 2018
All information has been presented for better understanding and general information purposes only.Maximum care has been taken for its authenticity, however it should not be considered as comprehensive or complete. The information provided is not intended as a means of diagnosing a health problem or determining treatment. Therefore, it is not meant as a substitute for the advice provided by your doctor.