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Private HbA1c Test

This test is always known by its formal name Glycated or glycosylated haemoglobin or Haemoglobin A1c test.

This test is used to measure the levels of glucose in the blood of someone who suffers from diabetes and can assist in the decision on treatment that have to be made.  It is also a useful tool in diagnosing both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

What is HbA1c?

HbA1c is also called glycated haemoglobin. HbA1c is the compound produced when glucose (sugar) binds to your red blood cells. If your body doesn’t use sugar as it should, more sugar will bind to the red blood cells and accumulate in the blood. Red blood cells remain active for 2 – 3 months, so HbA1c reading is recommended quarterly.

A high HbA1c level means you have excess sugar in your blood and indicates you are likely to develop complications of diabetes, such as serious problems with your feet and eyes.

If you know your HbA1c level and what you can do to lower this level, it reduces your risk of life-threatening complications. HbA1c test is an important check and essential in your annual health review. HbA1c is necessary at least once yearly, but if you have high HbA1c levels, you need the test every 3 – 6 months.

When you get your HbA1c test result, understanding the results and how to control the levels is also important. Even slightly elevated HbA1c levels increase your risk of serious complications.

What is an HbA1c test?

The HbA1c or haemoglobin A1c test measures the glucose bound to the haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is a part of the red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to other body parts. Testing your blood for HbA1c levels provides information on how well you are controlling diabetes.

If you have the kit, you can check your average blood sugar, but your healthcare professional can carry out this test. The HbA1c test differs from a finger-prick test, which shows your blood sugar levels at a particular time of the day.

You can know your HbA1c level when you get the HbA1c blood test. Your healthcare provider can arrange for this test, but you can also request it if you haven’t tested for HbA1c for a few months.

Most people undergo the HbA1c blood test every 3 – 6 months, but more frequent testing is necessary if you are planning to have a baby, have problems managing your blood sugar levels, or your treatment recently changed.

Some people also need the HbA1c test less often, usually in the later stages of pregnancy or will undergo a different test like those for anaemia. An alternative is the fructosamine test, but it is rare.

The HbA1c test helps in diagnosing diabetes and monitoring your blood sugar levels if you are at risk of developing diabetes for prediabetic patients.

HbA1c is also known as A1c or haemoglobin A1c.

What is the test for?

Some glucose in the blood binds to haemoglobin (the protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the red blood cells). The combination of haemoglobin and glucose gives HbA1c or haemoglobin A1c.

The amount of HbA1c in the blood gives the average glucose concentration in the bloodstream. Red blood cells live for an average of 2 – 3 months, so the amount of HbA1c in the blood shows the average glucose level in the last 2 – 3 months. Uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes causes high blood glucose levels, which will cause higher levels of HbA1c.

What is the normal HbA1c range?

The ideal HbA1c level for people with diabetes is 48mmol/mol (6.5%) or lower.

HbA1c levels and targets

While everyone is different, the healthcare provider will give you an individual target level for HbA1c, considering your current level and when you will have your next test. This helps reduce the blood sugar in stages so there isn’t a sudden drop.

  • If you are at risk of type II diabetes

    HbA1c target levels differ for people with a risk of developing type II diabetes. If you are at risk of this condition, your target should be keeping your HbA1c level below 42mmol/mol (6%).

  • Type II diabetes remission

    This is when someone with type II diabetes has a normal blood glucose level for a long time without taking diabetes medication. An HbA1c level of 48mmol/mol (6.5%) or below means the person is in remission.

    Type II diabetes is a serious condition that can last a lifetime and worsen over time, but it may not be so for everyone.

When is HbA1c testing necessary?

Everyone with diabetes mellitus needs the HbA1c at least once yearly, but some people need the test more often. A more frequent HbA1c test is more likely if you recently changed your medication or your healthcare provider wants to monitor your diabetes control several times yearly.

Testing recommendation for people above 45

  • If you have a normal result, repeat the test every three years
  • If your result is within the prediabetes range, testing every 1 – 2 years is necessary. You can ask your provider how often you should get tested and steps to take to reduce your risk of developing diabetes
  • If your result is within the range indication you have diabetes, HbA1c testing is necessary at least twice yearly to monitor the condition and your treatment

You are likely to develop diabetes if you are below 45 years and:

  • Have prediabetes
  • Have a sibling or parent with type II diabetes
  • Are overweight or have obesity
  • Are physically active less than three times weekly
  • Have had a stroke or a heart disease
  • Have high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure
  • Have given birth to a baby weighing over nine pounds or had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Are American Indian, Hispanic or Latino, African American, or a Native of Alaska. Some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have a risk of developing diabetes.

HbA1c testing may also be necessary if you experience the following diabetes symptoms.

  • Urinating a lot
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Tingling or numb feet or hands
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Sores that heal slowly
  • Feeling very hungry
  • Having more infections than usual
  • Losing weight without trying

What do the results mean?

HbA1c results provide information on the percentage of the haemoglobin bound with glucose. The ranges are only a guide to the normal range as the normal range depends on your age, health and other factors. Your provider can inform you of your healthy HbA1c percentage.

The common HbA1c percentages for diagnosing prediabetes and diabetes are:

  • Normal – below 5.7%
  • Prediabetes – between 5.7 – 6.4%
  • Diabetes – 6.5% or above

More than one test is usually necessary to diagnose diabetes, so if you have a higher than normal HbA1c result, you may need to repeat the test or a different diabetes test, usually an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) or fasting blood glucose test.

If you had the HbA1c test to monitor diabetes, consult your healthcare provider to interpret your result.

You can visit Blood London at Suite E, 117a Harley St, Marylebone, London W1G 6AT, for your HbA1c test or call us on 020 71830244 to book an appointment for your HbA1c test.

How Blood London Works

Order your test

Order your test

Select the test that you would like to undergo

Provide your sample

Provide your sample

Go to the Harley Street clinic for your blood draw and pay for your test in person

View your results

View your results

As soon as the results are ready, the will be sent to you by your chosen method

World class partner lab (TDL)

World class partner lab (TDL)

Advice from expert UK doctors

Advice from expert UK doctors

Repeat your tests and track your improvements!

Repeat your tests and track your improvements!

Comprehensive Blood Testing