Diabetes is our body’s way of providing growth and energy. The foods we eat get broken down into glucose, which our body then uses as fuel. Glucose enters our bloodstream where it’s then utilized for growth and energy. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. For our cells to use glucose, our blood requires the insulin. This production moves the glucose from the blood cells to other cells so that it can create energy and growth. If enough insulin is failed to be produced, or our cells do not use it correctly, an individual may end up with the disease known as diabetes. Insulin is essential in regulating the body’s blood sugar levels. If left untreated, diabetes can cause serious health issues, and be life threatening. If a person experiences symptoms, they should be tested right away.
The hemoglobin A1c test (HbA1c) or more simply the A1c test is a test that is familiar to most diabetics, and it primarily relies on the red blood cells. It’s a blood test which reveals the average blood glucose levels over a period of about 8 to 12 weeks or 2 to three months, which is the lifetime of an average red blood cell. The A1C test reacts with the glucose in a patient’s blood, measuring the hemoglobin percentage. Many people with diabetes know that the A1c test is used as a marker for their blood sugar levels, but few understand how the test works or how the results are calculated and interpreted. Although the traditionally favored methods are Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) test and Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT), many studies have shown that A1C test is a better test for diabetes.
Glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream binds with the hemoglobin found in the red blood cells. As blood sugar levels rise in the body over time, more and more sugar attaches itself to the hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Sugar can remain attached to the hemoglobin for extended periods of time. When an individual has regular blood tests done, the A1c test can establish the amount of sugar attached to the hemoglobin. This, in turn, is interpreted as the blood sugar level.
Many doctors set the average percentage for the A1c test at 6.5% or less. This means that a regular person should have an average daily blood sugar level of about 150. The higher the A1c test is, the higher your blood sugar level has been. Very high blood sugar levels cause inflammation in the body. Over time, high blood sugar levels can cause lots of damage to the internal systems of the body and can cause many other complications associated with diabetes.
Many people with diabetes are either unaware or unsure of what the normal levels of the A1c test should be. For normal healthy people, their A1c levels are about 4‐6%. To achieve A1c test levels between 4% and 6%, the person needs to have a blood sugar level of around 85 to 100 in the morning (before any meal) and to have them remain constant after testing 2 hours again after eating.