What Is A Hemoglobin A1c Test And When Is It Done?

Question: What is a hemoglobin A1c test and when is it done?

Answer: Now the Hemoglobin A1c test, or 'A1c' as it's commonly called, is another test that we use to monitor the level of glucose control in people with diabetes.

What it measures is the amount of glucose that's attached to the hemoglobin in the blood, and it gives us an indication of what the average blood sugar levels are during the previous two to three months.

The normal range is 4 to 6 percent of the hemoglobin, and in our diabetic patients, our goal, on an individual basis, is to get people to as close to normal as possible. Now we're generally happy if we can get the level to under 7 percent or even better, under 6 1/2 percent. And this really represents quite good control of diabetes.

If it's above 7 percent then we like to intensify or change our treatment in order to get better glucose control. The reason for this is that we know that the long term complications of diabetes are clearly related to the A1c level. The higher the A1c level, the greater risk of damage to eyes, kidneys, nerves and also greater risk for heart attacks and strokes.

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