Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How is hemoglobin A1c measured?"
What tests do they do?
The hemoglobin a1c test is a test for diabetes. It is not only a test that says whether or not you have diabetes, it can tell if you are on the verge of getting diabetes, and (if you already have diabetes) it can tell how well blood sugar is being controlled. The way it works is fairly simple. Sugar in the blood can bind to the blood protein hemoglobin. If your blood sugar is high (as it is in diabetes), then more of it will bind to hemoglobin. A hemoglobin molecule lives in the blood for 3 months. Thus, the hemoglobin a1c test measures your average blood sugar over the past 3 months. Any number under 5.5 is considered normal and over 6.5 is considered diagnostic for diabetes. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can discuss the hemoglobin a1c test and if it is a test you should have done. If you are over the age of 30, then having this done is not a bad idea. If you are younger than that, you can probably hold off until you are older, unless you have a strong family of diabetes, or if you have symptoms that are concerning. Good luck.