The Glycated Hemoglobin Test
Diabetes: the Glycated Hemoglobin Test

What is the glycated hemoglobin test?

The "glycated" or "glyco" hemoglobin test, done by your doctor, measures your overall blood glucose (sugar) control for the past two to three months. This test is also called the hemoglobin A-1-C test. The glycated hemoglobin test is not the same as the blood glucose test, which measures your blood sugar level at the time of the test.

How does the test work?

As the hemoglobin in red blood cells moves through your blood stream, it picks up a glucose coating, or glycosylzation. The higher your blood glucose, the more coating your blood cells will pick up.

This test measures the amount of coating the blood cells have picked up over the past two to three months - about as long as the average red blood cell lives in your blood stream.

How will it help me control my diabetes?

Keeping your glycated hemoglobin in the normal or near normal range helps prevent some of the major problems that diabetes can cause, such as blindness, kidney and nerve problems. HAP advises that the glycated hemoglobin test be done at least once a year for all diabetic patients. The blood glucose test does not replace this test.

Understanding my test results

These ranges will tell you how well you have controlled your blood sugar during the past few months:

Greater than 9: Poor Control 7-9: Average Control Less than 7: Good Control

What is best for me?

People with diabetes should try to keep lowering their glycated hemoglobin levels toward the "Good" range. Every improvement helps avoid long-term complications such as eye, kidney and nerve problems. Good control may be achieved through meal planning, exercise, prescribed medications, and regular medical care.

To work towards this goal, as with many things in life, a balanced approach is needed. If the blood sugar level gets too low, accidents and even a loss of consciousness may occur. Also, raising the insulin dose to lower the blood sugar may contribute to weight gain, which can cause additional problems. This is why it is important that you work closely with your doctor to develop a plan for controlling blood sugar that is right for you.

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