The smarter diabetics usually start a stringent diet control a day or two prior to the scheduled fasting or postprandial blood glucose measurements. But, the HbA1c test outsmarts these habitual offenders. The USP of HbA1c lies in the fact that it reflects blood sugar levels over a period of 8-12 weeks thereby providing true picture about long term control.
The life span of red blood cells is 120 days. During this time, the hemoglobin molecules get glycated (i.e. glucose gets attached to it) at variable rate. The higher the levels of glucose in blood, higher will be the glycation of circulating hemoglobin.
Advantages of HbA1c test
- Fasting and postmeal sugars are subject to recent food intake and are highly variable on day to day basis. But HbA1c is a measure of long term control
- HbA1c test can be performed any time of the day and does not require a person to be fasting or in the fed state.
- Is a valuable test for diagnosis of diabetes and overall metabolic control in those with secondary complications e.g. retinopathy, ketoacidosis
- <5.7% = No diabetes
- 5.7-6.4% = Prediabetes /at risk of diabetes
- >6.5% = Diabetes
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The importance of regular blood glucose tests cannot be underestimated but HbA1c is definitely a powerful tool for diagnosis and management of diabetes. We can decide to stay in denial about blood sugars by cheating with food intake occasionally but eventually one has to face the facts. So, please get HbA1c done today!