Diabetes Basics

HbA1c Test to Measure Glycated Hemoglobin in Blood

Hemoglobin is one of the many vital compounds in our blood. Its levels determine the level of red blood cells inside our body. Hence, it is important to monitor its levels inside our blood. While there are mostly genetic reasons for the low levels of hemoglobin, it has been found that there are some other factors as well. Attaching of hemoglobin with glucose is one such factor. The result of this reattachment is Glycated hemoglobin.

What is HbA1c test?
The HbA1c test is a test used to determine the levels of Glycated hemoglobin in our blood stream. This test is conducted on the recommendation of your physician. They do so when you might be suffering from diabetes. However, it is not used to measure the extent to which you are diabetic but the extent to which controlling blood sugar level is effective.

HbA1c test-The Method of Execution
The test is performed by drawing a sample of blood from the veins in the arm. To extract the blood sample, a sterilized band is tied around the upper arm. This increases blood pressure inside the veins. The spot from where the blood sample would be extracted is cleaned with an antiseptic and a puncture is then made using a sterilized needle.

Once a sample amount (usually 10 to 15 ml) is collected, the needle is gently withdrawn. Pressure is applied on the spot to stop any chances of bleeding. To eliminate the possibility of infection in the puncture an antiseptic bandage is applied on the punctured spot.

What is the Risk Involved?
There is no (or minimal) risk involved in the HbA1c test. The puncture made is very small and it automatically stops bleeding blood after a few minutes. However, care has to be taken that the band tied on the upper arm is released before the needle is withdrawn. This would decrease the blood pressure in veins which would facilitate in clotting.

Application of an antiseptic band-aid strip would minimize any chances of infection. However, on some occasions, an individual might also faint. But this is a rare phenomenon.

HbA1c test- What Do the Results indicate?
If you are diabetic then you would have higher levels of Glycated hemoglobin in your blood. The ideal figure is that of 6 per cent of total hemoglobin present in the blood. If this figure touches the 7 per cent mark that this means that your chances of developing the following ailments have increased substantially:

* Stroke
* Heart disease
* Eye disease
* Nerve damage
* Kidney disease

A word of caution!
The range of "normal levels of Glycated hemoglobin" may vary slightly from laboratory to laboratory. Hence, it is best to ask your physician the real meaning of the result figures which the HbA1c test has thrown up.