What is a Blood Sugar Test (Hgb A1C)?
A blood sugar test also known as Hemoglobin A1c (HgbA1c or HbA1c) is a blood test that provides information about a person’s average levels of blood glucose (also called blood sugar) over the past 3 months. The HbA1c test is the primary test used for diabetes management and diabetes research.
The HbA1c test is based on the attachment of glucose to hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen in the body. The red blood cells are constantly forming and dying in the body, but typically they live for about 3 months. Thus, the HbA1c test reflects the average of a person’s blood glucose levels over the past 3 months.
The HbA1c test result is reported as a percentage and higher percentage indicates higher blood glucose levels.
If you have elevated levels of HbA1c, then it’s a sign of diabetes, a chronic disease that leads to health problems such as nerve damage, kidney disease, or heart disease.
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What is diabetes and how is it related to blood sugar levels?
To understand what diabetes is, you first need to understand the role of insulin in your body. When you eat, your body turns food into sugar or glucose. At that point, your pancreas is supposed to release insulin. Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells, allowing the glucose to enter and be used for energy.
But with diabetes, this system does not work. Your body doesn’t make enough or any insulin; or doesn’t use insulin well. This leads to increase in blood sugar levels.
High blood sugar can cause damage to your nerves, blood vessels, and organs. Therefore, monitoring your blood sugar levels is critical to those who suffer from diabetes.
When should you take a blood sugar test (HbA1c)?
You should take the blood sugar test if you have the following symptoms of diabetes:
- Blurred vision
- Increased thirst and urination
- Fainting spells
- Change or confusion in the way you behave or talk
Sometimes your doctor may also suggest the blood sugar test, if you are suffering from one or more of the following diseases:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
Why is the blood sugar test (HbA1c) performed?
The HbA1c test is performed to diagnose prediabetes and to monitor blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.
Prediabetes means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, and you are at the risk of getting diabetes.
If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, the hemoglobin A1c test will help to monitor your glucose levels.
Also, if your high blood sugar has led to a kidney disease, then your doctor will suggest you take a Kidney Ultrasound.
How is the HbA1c test performed?
A healthcare professional or doctor will draw a blood sample from your arm vein through a syringe and needle. After the needle is inserted into the vein, a sterile tube will be used to collect the blood sample. You will experience a sting when the needle is inserted and taken out. This process usually takes about five to ten minutes.
Are there any risks in this test?
No. There is rarely any risk involved while taking the blood sugar test.
When will I receive my results?
Once the blood sugar test is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How do I prepare? Do I need to fast?
You do not need any preparation or fasting for this test. Just bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.
Is there anything that I should be aware about before taking the HbA1c test?
This test is not suitable for diagnosing diabetes in children or gestational diabetes, a kind of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy.
Also, if you have a blood disorder or anemia, the HbA1c test is not advised for diagnosing diabetes. If you have these conditions and are at risk for diabetes, your doctor will suggest different tests.