Monitoring blood glucose levels is an important step in managing your Diabetes. There are many ways of doing it. They are fasting blood glucose, postprandial blood glucose levels, self-monitoring with a glucometer, HbA1c and continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS).
HbA1c is also known as glycated haemoglobin. This is the glucose which is bound to the protein haemoglobin in the red blood cells. Since RBCs have a life span of 120 days HbA1c serves as an overall marker of what your average levels are over a period of 3-4 months.
What is the normal HbA1c level?
For people without diabetes, HbA1c between 4.0 to 5.6 is considered as normal. HbA1c levels between 5.7% and 6.4% mean you have a higher risk of developing diabetes. Levels of 6.5% or higher mean you have diabetes.
What is the role of HbA1c in management of Diabetes?
HbA1c helps in knowing the overall glucose control over the preceding 3-4 months. It also helps your doctor in deciding the medications to be used and evaluating the effectiveness of the ongoing treatment. HbA1c also helps to predict your risk of developing long term complications of diabetes. Research has shown that each percentage point increase in HbA1c is associated with a 35% percent increase in diabetes complications like vision loss, kidney damage, and nerve damage.
How often should you check your haemoglobin A1c levels?
You should get your HbA1c levels checked at the time of detection of diabetes and every three months until you reach their treatment goals. Once the blood glucose levels are well controlled, you can do it once in six months.
How do I prepare for the test?
No special preparation is required for the HbA1c test. You will have to give a blood sample like you do for other tests. This test can be done at any time of the day.
If you have anaemia, severe kidney disease or severe liver disease, an HbA1c test may be less accurate for diagnosing diabetes. It is also not a good test to diagnose gestational diabetes.