Also referred to as the glycohemoglobin test, HbA1c and hemoglobin A1C, the A1C test is a valuable tool for early diabetes identification, diabetes management (both type 1 and type 2) and diabetes research.
The A1C test is able to show a person’s average blood-sugar (blood-glucose) level over an approximately three month period. This is done by looking specifically at “glycated hemoglobin” and pulling from its analysis the average “plasma glucose concentration” over a three month period. Three months is the typical amount of time that red blood cells live in the human body, and hemoglobin is a protein within those red blood cells to which glucose attaches itself. Test results are seen as a percentage, and an A1C test with a result above 5.7 percent is considered above normal. As a general guide, A1C test results with percentages below 5.7 are considered normal, between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent are representative of prediabetes, and above 6.5 percent indicates diabetes.
One does not need to fast in order to take an A1C test, as is the case with other common diabetes tests such as a blood-glucose test, which is clinically called the fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test. The oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) for gestational diabetes also requires fasting. Due to its convenience and ability to average glycohemoglobin over longer time periods, many doctors and researchers believe that the A1C test will both help identify more existing cases of diabetes, as well as help prevent some cases by identifying those at greatest risk.
In addition to helping identify and manage diabetes and diabetes risk, A1C tests should also be of value in showing prediabetics that are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and may already be suffering from conditions such as insulin resistance, that time is running out to get healthy, by eating fresh whole foods and living actively and mindfully!
Resources and Further Reading
A comprehensive guide to A1C tests:
Different kinds of diabetes tests for different forms of diabetes and prediabetes:
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