Thursday, December 15, 2011

Diabetics have you checked your hemoglobin A1c lately?


The A1c test is used primarily to monitor the glucose control of diabetics over time. The goal of those with diabetes is to keep their blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. This helps to minimize the complications caused by chronically elevated glucose levels, such as progressive damage to body organs like the kidneys, eyes, cardiovascular system, and nerves. The A1c test gives a picture of the average amount of glucose in the blood over the last few months. It can help a patient and his doctor know if the measures they are taking to control the patient's diabetes are successful or need to be adjusted.

Depending on the type of diabetes that you have, how well your diabetes is controlled, and your doctor, your A1c may be measured 2 to 4 times each year. The American DiabetesAssociation (ADA) recommends testing your A1c 4 times each year if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and use insulin; or 2 times each year if you have type 2 diabetes and do not use insulin. When someone is first diagnosed with diabetes or if control is not good, A1c may be ordered more frequently.

How it works

The A1c blood test checks the average amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood over the last 2 to 3 months. It does this by measuring the concentration of glycosylated hemoglobin. As glucose circulates in the blood, some of it binds to hemoglobin A. This is the main form of hemoglobin in adults. Hemoglobin is a red protein that carries oxygen in the red blood cells (RBC's). Once the glucose is bound to the hemoglobin A, it remains there for the life of the red blood cell (about 120 days). This combination of glucose and hemoglobin A is called A1c (or hemoglobin A1c or glycohemoglobin). Increased glucose in the blood, increases the hemoglobin A1c. A1c levels do not change quickly but will shift as older RBC's die and younger ones take their place.


Non diabetic adults: 2.2%-4.8%

Non diabetic child: 1.8%-4.0%

Good diabetic control: 2.5%-5.9%

Fair diabetic control: 6%-8%

Poor diabetic control: greater than 8%

**"Normal" ranges for lab values and other tests may vary among different laboratories and/or hospitals.

Your caregiver will go over the test results with you and discuss the importance and meaning of your results, as well as treatment options and the need for additional tests if necessary.

This post is for informational purposes only.  If you feel that you may have diabetes or need your hemoglobin A1C check, contact your credentialed health care provider.

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