What is a glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) test?
The HbA1c test shows an average of your blood glucose level over the past 10-12 weeks and should be arranged by your doctor every 3-6 months. The measurement is expressed as a percentage (%) not as mmol/L [Aussie figures] like the tests you do on your blood glucose meter.
Is the HbA1c the same as testing your own BGLs?
No. The HbA1c test doesn’t show the highs and lows that your home testing shows. Therefore it does not replace the tests you do yourself but is used as an added tool in giving the overall picture of your blood glucose management.
What HbA1c do I aim for?
The goal for most people with diabetes will be in the 6.5% to 7% range however this may need to be higher for children and the old and frail. Your doctor will advise.
How does it work?
A glycated haemoglobin test is possible because red blood cells (RBC) are continuously being made by your long bones and released into your circulation.
When these cells are released, they pick up a percentage (%) of the glucose in the blood stream at that time.
Each RBC lasts about 120 days. Therefore any blood sample will have a range of cells released over the previous 120 days with different amounts of glucose attached. The HbA1c test is able to work out the average.
What is a normal HbA1c level?
Well, in non-diabetics, a normal HbA1c level is between 3.0% to 7%. But diabetics usually have a more elevated bG (Blood Glucose) level and can go between 7% and 13%+. For diabetics it is usually aimed for to have your HbA1c levels below 7%.