Review Blood Sugar Levels and Why Your Glycosylated Hemoglobin HbA1C Level is Important to You: Receiving a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is definitely a shock to your system … but hearing all those medical terms health professionals use is another! There are some pretty big medical terms used and you often wonder what they mean and why they are important. Better blood sugar control over time means less chance of complications to people who have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. This is why your glycosylated hemoglobin level, one of those great medical terms, is really important to you.
The glycosylated hemoglobin test:
- is also known as the HbA1c, A1c, or maybe your percentage
- was shown to be beneficial to diabetics because it gives you and your health care practitioner a true picture of your average blood sugar level over the last ninety days
- gives you the best understanding of how you are controlling your type 1 or type 2 diabetes
To understand how this test works:
Normal red blood cells live for ninety days. As the red blood cell travels through your bloodstream, it shares that space with other molecules and chemicals … one of them is blood sugar. Sugar in your blood has the potential of combining or sticking to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells. This process is called glycation, in other words, sugar binds with your cell’s hemoglobin. When this happens, your hemoglobin is especially damaged because it can not go back to its normal configuration once it is glycated. Instead, its protein structure is twisted and nonfunctional.
The higher your blood sugar levels, the more sugar will be found sticking to your hemoglobin. The hemoglobin that is bound to the sugar molecule is called hemoglobin A1c. The higher the value of hemoglobin A1c on your laboratory test, the higher the amount of glycation that has occurred in your body. Levels for diabetics should be less than 6.0% … this means that 6% of the hemoglobin tested has sugar bound to it.
The problem with high glycation levels is the sugar damage does not just stop there; it continues. Excess sugar in your bloodstream binds:
- with proteins in your brain and can contribute to dementia
- to proteins in the lens of your eye, the glycation damage can cause blindness
- with the proteins in your skin, the result is you look ten years older
- to proteins in your kidneys; the reaction can cause the diabetic complication called nephropathy
What is the normal range of Glycosylated Hemoglobin HbA1c ?
If your HbA1c level is less than 6%, then your treatment is working. If it’s at 14% and was 12% three months prior, then your treatment needs to be changed. The official levels that are used by the American Diabetes Association are 7.0%, not 6.0%. The International Diabetes Federation and American College of Endocrinology recommend HbA1c levels are kept below 6.5%. The normal range of an HbA1c level is between 4.0% and 5.9%.
While the HbA1c provides great information, it is not a replacement for daily monitoring of your blood sugar levels.