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Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) Test for Diabetes

The hemoglobin A1c test tells you your average level of blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. People who have diabetes need this test regularly to see if their levels are staying within range. It can tell if you need to adjust your diabetes medicines. The A1c test is also used to diagnose diabetes.

The sugar in your blood is called glucose. When glucose builds up in your blood, it binds to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells.

The HBA1c test measures how much glucose is bound.

Red blood cells live for about 3 months, so the test shows the average level of glucose in your blood for the past 3 months.

If your glucose levels have been high over recent weeks, your hemoglobin A1c test will be higher.

The target HBA1C level for people with diabetes is usually less than 7%. The higher the hemoglobin A1c, the higher your risk of having complications related to diabetes. Someone who has had untreated diabetes for a long time might have a level above 8%.

If you have diabetes and your level is above your target, your doctor may change your treatment plan to get your level down. The test will set a baseline level so you can see how well you’re controlling your blood sugar, the type of diabetes you have, your blood sugar control and your treatment plan.

It’s not a fasting test. You can take it any time of day, before or after eating.

People with diseases affecting hemoglobin, such as anemia, may get misleading results with this test. Other things that can affect the results of the hemoglobin A1c include supplements, such as vitamins C and E, and high cholesterol levels. Kidney disease and liver disease may also affect the test.

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