HbA1c test

Other names: Glycated Haemoglobin; Haemoglobin A1c

Haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is formed when haemoglobin binds to glucose; the level of HbA1c in the blood is relative to the level of glucose in the bloodstream. In people who have diabetes, the levels of HbA1c may be higher than normal, as the levels of glucose in their blood are higher. If diabetes is controlled, the level of HbA1c will stabilise; however, if the diabetes is not treated, this will cause levels of HbA1c to rise.

When is the test used?

The test is primarily used to monitor the condition of patients with diabetes; the test allows doctors and patients to see how well diabetes has been controlled over the last couple of months. The results of the test show the average amount of glucose in the blood over a period of time.

The test is usually carried out at least twice a year on patients with diabetes; it may be carried out more regularly in patients who have been diagnosed with the condition more recently.

How is the test performed?

The test is done by collecting a sample of blood from a vein in the arm; a needle is inserted into the vein and the blood is collected in a syringe. Once the sample has been collected, it will be bottled, labelled with the patient’s name and sent off to the laboratory for evaluation.

In infants, a sample of blood may be collected from the heel, as this is less traumatic for them. The heel is pricked with a needle and the sample is collected.

What do the test results mean?

If the test shows that the level of HbA1c are within the target range (6.5% of the total amount of haemoglobin in the blood), this shows that the patient is controlling their diabetes well.

If levels are higher than usual, this may indicate that the diabetes is not under control and this may contribute to long-term complications, including nerve damage, kidney disease and eye problems.

Certain health conditions which affect the haemoglobin in the body, including sickle cell anaemia, may affect the test results; the method may be changed to ensure the results are accurate in this case.

Levels may be higher than normal if the patient has an iron deficiency.

Specific Blood Tests

© Medic8® | All Rights Reserved