"Synonyms: Affinity Column Hemoglobin; Fast Hemoglobin;? Glycated Hemoglobin (Hgb); Hemoglobin,? A1c, HbA1c

Why It Is Done
Assess long-term glucose control in diabetes

Test Overview
Do you know your A1c level? ?Whether or not you have diabetes, everyone should know the answer.

In recent years health organizations have been stressing the importance of A1c. management. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services encourages regular monitoring of A1c, along with cholesterol.

The A1c test is different than the standard fasting glucose. It tests blood sugar in a different way.

A fasting test gives you an indication of only current glucose levels at the moment you test while the A1c gives you the big picture of what your average levels are over a two to three month period.

As your body processes blood sugar, small amounts of glucose naturally bond with hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells. What's significant is that the amount of glucose that combines with the hemoglobin is directly proportional to the total amount of glucose that is currently in your system.

As a result, the hemoglobin bonded with glucose (glycated hemoglobin, or A1c) can be used as an overall record of glucose levels for as long as the individual red blood cell lives, which is about two to three months.

Getting a reading of overall blood glucose, instead of relying only on a series of fasting readings, has made a big difference in diabetes management.

For the general population it can alert one to a borderline high or ""pre-diabetic"" condition.

Experts agree that a normal A1c for someone without diabetes is between 4%-6%; anything above that should be considered a sign of diabetes.

But exactly where you should be on that scale is debated and the recommendations for target A1c levels vary. For instance, the American Diabetes Association recently changed its recommended A1c from under 8% to 7% or below. Meanwhile, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) recommends an even lower number of less than 6.5%.

How To Prepare

No special preparation required