14 November is World Diabetes Day

Understanding HbAC1

In 2023, the World Diabetes Day campaign focus on the importance of knowing your risk of type 2 diabetes to help delay or prevent the condition and highlighting the impact of diabetes-related complications and the importance of having access to the right information and care to ensure timely treatment and management.

Knowing your HbA1c levels can help you understand your risk to develop type 2 diabetes or if you have diabetes help you understand your risk to develop diabetes related complications.

What does HbA1c mean?

HbA1c is short for glycated haemoglobin.  Glycated haemoglobin is made when the glucose (sugar) in your body sticks to your red blood cells.  Your body can’t use the sugar properly, so more of it sticks to your blood cells and builds up in your blood.  The amount of HbA1c formed is directly related to the amount of glucose in your blood.  A high HbA1c means you have too much sugar in your blood.

Red blood cells live for an average of 120 days, so HbA1c gives an indication of how much sugar there has been in your blood over the past few months.  It’s different to a blood glucose test, which measures how much sugar is in the blood at that moment.

HbAC1 and type 2 diabetes

HbA1c measure your average blood glucose (sugar) levels for the last two to three months.  HbA1c is a blood test that is used to diagnose type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.  It is also used to monitor blood glucose control in people with diabetes.

A normal A1C level is below 5.7%, a level of 5.7% to 6.4% indicates prediabetes, and a level of 6.5% or more indicates diabetes.  Within the 5.7% to 6.4% prediabetes range, the higher your A1C, the greater your risk is for developing type 2 diabetes.

Monitoring HbA1c in people with diabetes is important.  That’s because the higher your HbA1c, the greater your risk of developing diabetes complications.  The goal for most people with diabetes is 7% or less.  Your HbA1c target will depend on several factors, such as:

  • The type of diabetes you have.
  • How long you have had diabetes.
  • Your health in general.

If your HbA1c result is higher than your target range, your doctor may consider changing your treatment or monitoring your blood sugars more closely.

Knowing your HbA1c level and what you can do to lower it will help you reduce your risk of devastating complications.  This means getting your HbA1c checked regularly.