What is HbA1c? - Homed-IQ

What is HbA1c?

Have you ever heard of HbA1c or know what it means? No? In this article, we want to explain what HbA1c is, what it means, why it is important to track your HbA1c level, and how you can lower your HbA1c levels.

What does HbA1c mean?

HbA1c is a blood test, used for diagnosing and monitoring people with diabetes. HbA1c stands for glycated haemoglobin. HbA1c gets produced when glucose attaches itself to the red blood cells in your body. Unfortunately, sugar is something that your body cannot use properly, resulting in more sugar sticking to your red blood cells, starting to build up.

An increased level of HbA1c means that you carry too much sugar in your blood circuit and you run into the risk of developing complications for diabetes. The longer you had high blood sugar levels, the higher your HbA1 test result will be.
On average, red blood cells can live for up to four months. Therefore, your HbA1c can be an indicator for how much sugar there has been in your blood over the past months. Therefore, our HbA1c test for home differs from a blood glucose test, which is measuring the amount of sugar being in your blood at the moment of testing.

HbA1c levels

When using the HbA1c test for monitoring diabetes, most patients have to do the test between two to four times a year, depending on each individual and their situation. A woman who intends to have a baby, should do the HbA1c test more frequently, while the test is less often required later during pregnancy. Also, the HbA1c target level differs for patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Your HbA1c levels also vary for many reasons, such as:

  • Changes in your lifestyle
  • Stress
  • Not feeling well
  • Taking other medications, such as steroids

To have a reference about what HbA1c level is normal, you need to put the HbA1c level (in %) in relation to your blood sugar level (mg/dL). A HbA1c level below 5.7% is considered normal, while a value of 6.5% or higher is an indicator for diabetes. Levels between 5.7% and 6.4% can refer to prediabetes and it is advised to visit your general practitioner.

HbA1c (%) Blood Sugar (mg/dL)
4 97
5 126
6 154
7 183
8 212

How to lower HbA1c levels

Luckily, there are some things you can do to lower your HbA1c levels down to your target level. In case you take any medications, it is advised to talk to your general practitioner. You might consider adjusting your doses or even switching your medicine, to bring down your HbA1c level. Other steps you can take are:

  • Visit a local educational course about diabetes to learn more about it
  • Exercise more
  • Quit smoking
  • Developing a balanced and healthy diet

Difference between an HbA1c test and finger-prick test

It is a common misconception that a HbA1c and a finger-prick test are the same, but they’re not. They both are relevant for patients with diabetes, but they measure something different. While the finger-prick test measures the blood sugar level at the moment of testing, the HbA1c test measures the average blood sugar levels from the 2-3 months. The finger-prick test is a test designed to be used by patients that need to do the test multiple times a day because of specific medicine, such as  insulin or sulfonylureas. The HbA1c test, on the other hand, is designed for everyone with diabetes (so, both type 1 and type 2), and is performed only two to four times a year, to see the development of managing the diabetes. Here at Homed-IQ you can buy a HbA1c test that you can do easily at home.

References

Diabetes UK. (n.d.). What is HbA1c? Retrieved 9 March 2022, from https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/managing-your-diabetes/hba1c

Health Direct Australia. (2020, August 1). HbA1c test. Diagnosing and Monitoring Diabetes | Healthdirect. Retrieved 9 March 2022, from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/hba1c-testEckelkamp, S. (2022, January 28). Managing Diabetes: What Is HbA1c And What Is A Normal Level? Imaware.Health. Retrieved 9 March 2022, from https://www.imaware.health/blog/what-is-hba1c