Hemoglobin A1c, commonly known as the HbA1c test is the measurement of the amount of blood sugar (glucose) attached to hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that transports oxygen from your lungs to your bloodstream and then to the rest of your body. It’s found in the red blood cells that make up your body.
The HbA1c test determines the average amount of blood sugar present in your hemoglobin over the course of three months. Because a red blood cell has a three-month lifespan, the average is calculated over three months.
An HbA1c test can reveal whether or not a person has diabetes or is at risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes can develop if HbA1c levels are too high.
Diabetes, if not managed properly, can lead to long-term health issues such as cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, kidney disease, and other complications.
How Does HbA1c Measure Blood Glucose Levels?
Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is made non-enzymatically, attaching a hexose molecule to the N-terminal amino acid of a hemoglobin molecule.
The hexose molecule is attached to the erythrocyte throughout its existence and is controlled by blood glucose concentration and the length of time the erythrocyte is exposed to blood glucose.
Also read: 5 Tips to Help You Stay Healthy with Diabetes
As a result, the HbA1c level reflects the average glucose concentration throughout the previous time period (about 8-12 weeks, depending on the individual) and is a significantly better indicator of long-term glycemic management than blood and urine glucose measures.
The HbA1c test determines the level of blood sugar in your hemoglobin. HbA1c reflects how much sugar was in the blood over the previous several months because red blood cells can live for up to four months. It’s not the same as a blood glucose test (which you do with a glucometer), which determines how much sugar is in your blood at any given time.
A glucometer provides a real-time reading of your glucose levels, whereas HbA1c allows you to track your blood glucose trend over time. This is critical because it shows whether your diabetic state is improving or deteriorating over time.
Can HbA1C Be Measured Through a Glucometer?
We must distinguish between the functions of a glucometer and the requirements for HbA1C tests. A glucometer is a device that measures blood glucose levels, but the A1c test isn’t solely concerned with glucose levels. HbA1c value cannot be obtained using a glucometer alone. However, an estimated HbA1c level can be obtained using consistent glucometer measurements.
After obtaining an average of 6 glucose readings on its app, a glucose meter like BeatO Curv can give you an estimated HbA1c. As a result, a glucometer can provide you with an “estimated” reading to help you stay on track. The estimated HbA1c, however, is not a substitute for a lab test.
The following table will help you in understanding your diabetic condition after the HbA1c test.
|Prediabetes||5.7% to 6.4%|
|Diabetes||6.5% or above|
What’s an Ideal HbA1C Goal You Should Aim For?
A blood sugar level of 7% or less is ideal for most diabetics. However, a variety of circumstances, such as your age and any other medical concerns, will have an impact on your own target. With the advice of your doctor, determine your own A1C target.
Younger people have more years with diabetes ahead of them, thus their goal may be lower to reduce the risk of complications unless hypoglycemia (low blood sugar, or “low”) occurs frequently.
People who are older, have experienced severe lows, or have other serious health problems may have a greater goal.