What Is HbA1c?

HbA1c: What all one wants to know: Diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus

HbA1c (glycosylated haemoglobin) is a measure of the amount of glucose attached to the body’s red blood cells, it is present in everyone even non diabetics. It gives an indication of your blood glucose control over the last 3 months.

It is very important as it lets people know wether they have diabetes,prediabetes or are in the healthy normal blood sugar range.

The level of HbA1c in your body rises and falls in line with your blood glucose – the higher your HbA1c, the more glucose is attached to your red blood cells.

Your HbA1c does not change rapidly because the red blood cells in your circulation last for around three months. Any increases and decreases in your HbA1c will happen over a period of at least three months.

Your HbA1c results is recorded in mmol/mol. It was recorded as a percentage (%) until 2011.

Convert HBa1c percentages to mmol/mol in 45 seconds!

HbA1c monitoring

The glycosylated hemoglobin (hemoglobin A1c or HbA1c) test will give you an overall picture of what your  blood glucose control has been over the past 3 months and is usually done during regular clinic visits with the diabetes health care team.

Hemoglobin is the substance inside red blood cells that carries oxygen to the cells of the body. The higher the glucose level is in the blood, the more it sticks to the hemoglobin. And once hemoglobin picks up glucose, the glucose stays on it for the life of the red blood cell which is three months.

The most commonly measured type of hemoglobin in the blood that has glucose attached to it is called HbA1c. In general, the lower (and closer to the levels seen in people without diabetes) your HbA1c, the better controlled the blood sugars have been over the preceding three months. Having lower HbA1c levels over years is associated with a lower risk of future health problems related to diabetes.

You should talk to your team about the target HbA1c you want to achieve given your lifestyle, activity level and age.

HbA1c and blood glucose

The chart below shows the relationship between the blood glucose level that you measure yourself and your HbA1c measurements from the hospital.

HbA1c level (%) HbA1c level (mmol/mol) Average plasma glucose level
6% 42 mmol/mol 7.5 mmol/L
7% 53 mmol/mol 9.4 mmol/L
8% 64 mmol/mol 11.3 mmol/L
9% 75 mmol/mol 13.3 mmol/L
10% 86 mmol/mol 15.3 mmol/L
11% 97 mmol/mol 17.2 mmol/L
12% 108 mmol/mol 19.1 mmol/L

Research shows that improved control of HbA1c will decrease the risk of diabetes complications.

Find out what your HbA1c is and keep a record of it in your glucose testing record diary. Remember, the better your blood glucose control, the more likely you are to achieve your HbA1c target.

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