HbA1c or Haemoglobin A1c is also known as glycosylated haemoglobin and is a longer term measure of glucose levels in your blood than a simple blood glucose test.
Diabetes Mellitus is caused by a reduced or absent production of insulin by the pancreas. A deficiency of insulin causes the level of glucose in the blood to rise and can, if untreated, lead to a number of health issues. One of the first symptoms is thirst and the need to pass water more frequently.
Type 1 diabetes mainly occurs in childhood and is an autoimmune disease.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that results in hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) due to the body:
Type 2 diabetes is characterised by the body being unable to metabolise glucose (a simple sugar). This leads to high levels of blood glucose which over time may damage the organs of the body. Around 85% of all the people with diabetes have type 2. Your ethnicity and family history can also affect your risk of type 2 diabetes.
If the risk factors are picked up early enough, diabetes can be prevented. Pre-diabetes occurs when glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetic. It is possible to change your diet and lifestyle to reverse the progression to full blown diabetes.
The Glycosylated Haemoglobin blood test gives an idea how well the blood sugar level has been controlled in the previous 8-12 weeks – the approximate half life of red blood cells. Haemoglobin is the oxygen carrying component of red blood cells. A small part of it is bound to glucose to form glycosylated haemoglobin. In normal people less than 6.0% of haemoglobin is glycosylated. People who are pre-diabetic would be in the range of 6.1% to 6.4% .People who are likely to have diabetes would have a level of 6.5% or greater. People with uncontrolled diabetes the levels of glycosylated haemoglobin would be 8% or greater.
Who should have this test?
Anyone who is concerned about their risk of diabetes – in particular anyone with a family history of type 2 diabetes or who is from a south east Asian or Afro-Caribbean ethnic group.