Diabetes leads to chronically high blood glucose levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, i.e., CDC around 29.1 million Americans are living with this chronic disease.
This means that 1 of 11 people has the condition. Previously, these people depended only on daily finger sticks or urine tests in order to measure their blood glucose levels.
These tests are accurate but only temporarily. Moreover, these tests are limited when it comes to the overall measurement of blood glucose control.
It’s like that since blood glucose might vary depending on the hormone changes, activity levels, and time of the day.
As a matter of fact, some people might experience high blood glucose levels at 3 a.m. and not be aware of it. Fortunately, there is the A1C test.
What Is the A1C Test?
This test became available in the 1980s, and it became a crucial tool when it comes to controlling diabetes. The term A1C is actually short for hemoglobin A1C or HbA1c.
This means glycated hemoglobin, which develops when the hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells which carries oxygen, is coated with sugar or glucose in the blood.
This test also has other names such as glycated hemoglobin test, glycosylated hemoglobin test, and glycohemoglobin test.
What Does A1C Test Measure?
This test measures the amount of hemoglobin found in the blood which has sugar attached to it. In fact, hemoglobin cells are continually regenerating and dying. However, they have a lifespan of around 3 months.
Sugar attaches glycates to the hemoglobin, therefore the record of the amount of sugar lasts around 3 months.
In case of too much sugar attached, one will have high A1C. In the case of a normal amount of sugar, one will have a normal A1C.
How This Test Is Done
This test does not hurt. Also, that is done by a healthcare professional. There is a need for only one drop of blood, and the sample is either sent to a lab for testing or is analyzed on-site.
Who Should Do the A1C Test?
Overweight people 45 and older should do the test. People who are overweight, younger than 45 but with additional risk factors for developing the chronic condition should also do this test.
Those with type 2 diabetes should do the test once per year. Some people might need to do the test more frequently.
This is necessary for people who have a recent change in drugs, or if the doctor wants to monitor the disease status of the patient, there might be a need for frequent tests.
The Link Between A1C Levels and Cardiovascular Disease
According to one 2015 study, both high and low levels of A1C are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in the Japanese population without diabetes.
The data of this study support the notion that too high or too low A1C levels might be markers for recognizing people with elevated health risks.
How Do We Diagnose These Two Conditions?
A normal fasting blood glucose might not dismiss the possibility of this chronic disease.
Nowadays the main use of the A1C tests is for screening and diagnosis of prediabetes. Since it doesn’t need fasting, the test can be part of the overall screening of blood. The blood sugar criteria or the A1C might give the diagnosis for these two conditions.
The blood sugar criteria might either be blood sugar level measured after a 2-hour blood sugar value after consuming 75 g of sugar or after an overnight fast.
As a matter of fact, the IDF, ADA, and the EASD recommend that this test should be the main test used in order to diagnose type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
The A1C Criteria for Diagnosis
This test can show if someone has any of these two conditions according to the following results:
- Normal A1C – Below 5.7 percent
- Prediabetes – From 5.7 percent to 6.4 percent
- Diabetes – 6.5 percent or more
Has anyone done the A1C test?