Glycated Hemoglobin or Hemoglobin A1c test

Glycated Hemoglobin or Hemoglobin A1c test

Glycated Hemoglobin or Hemoglobin A1c, is a test that tells us what our average blood glucose levels have been over the past three or four months, telling us how good or bad our Diabetes control has been during that time.

Hemoglobin is the protein responsible for transporting oxygen, and because glucose is “sticky”, it adheres to hemoglobin as it flows through the bloodstream. The more glucose there is in the bloodstream, the greater the amount of hemoglobin glycation will occur in that period.

In people without Diabetes the normal glycated hemoglobin levels are 5% to 5.7%. If a person without Diabetes has a level of 5.8% to 6.1%, this means they have insulin resistance or glucose intolerance, if their glycated hemoglobin or A1c level is 6.2% to 6.4%, that means they have prediabetes, and more than 6.5% indicates they already have Diabetes.

People with Diabetes need to get a Glycated Hemoglobin or A1c test at least twice a year, however, people who don’t have good control of their Diabetes, are recommended to get an A1c test four times a year. Glycated Hemoglobin or A1c is a lab test that doesn’t require fasting.

The goal of every person with Diabetes who wants to achieve optimal control of their blood sugar levels, is to keep their Hemoglobin A1c levels lower than 7%. Sometimes doctors prefer some patients to not have a tight control over their blood glucose levels when they are more likely to have hypoglycemic (low blood glucose) episodes. Hypoglycemia can be very dangerous in these patients, so in these cases it’s desirable to keep their Hemoglobin A1c slightly higher than 7% but below 8%.

The Glycated Hemoglobin or Hemoglobin A1c test doesn’t replace monitoring glucose levels. When you check your blood sugar levels daily, the result will allow you to know how your blood glucose level is at that moment, allowing you to take any necessary corrective measures to keep it within normal range (70-110mg/dl).

This test should be done at least twice a year, however, in people who don’t have good control on their Diabetes, it’s advisable to do this test four times a year.

If you have Glycated Hemoglobin levels between 5% and 6% it means you have excellent control over your diabetes, from 6% to 7% is very good, 7% to 8% is good, 8% to 9% indicates inadequate control, while if it reaches 11% it means you’ve had very bad control over the past three months. A 6.5% Hemoglobin A1c level indicates that the average blood glucose level has been 142mg/dl, while a Hemoglobin A1c level of 11% indicates that this average has been 277mg/dl. Because Glycated Hemoglobin or Hemoglobin A1c tells you more accurately how your glucose level control has been in the past three or four months, every person with Diabetes should know their A1c number.

The table below shows average blood glucose levels based on the outcome of their Glycated Hemoglobin or A1c test

Glycated Hemoglobin TestBlood Glucose AverageQualification
5-6 %80-120 mg/dl.Excellent
6-7 %120-150 mg/dl.Very Good
7-8 %150-180 mg/dl.Good
8-9 %180-210 mg/dl.Regular
9-10 %210-240 mg/dl.Problematic
10-11 %240-270 mg/dl.Bad
11-12 %270-300 mg/dl.Very Bad

If your Glycated Hemoglobin or Hemoglobin A1c is high, your doctor will make the necessary changes or adjustments to your treatment, diet plan, exercise program or other lifestyle changes, to keep your glucose levels as close to normal (70 -110mg / dl) as possible, reducing the risk of developing chronic complications.

If a person with Diabetes maintains their Hemoglobin A1c levels below 7%, their body won’t know they have Diabetes, which will guarantee the prevention of the dreaded chronic complications associated with poor Diabetes control.

At Diabetes Up to Date, our goal and commitment is to offer you all of the knowledge you need to maintain optimal control of your Diabetes to enjoy a healthy, productive and happy life.

More about …
The most important tests for people with Diabetes