Understanding your HbA1c and ‘knowing your diabetes numbers’ can help you and your healthcare team make better decisions about your diabetes management. Charmaine, Warren and Yvonne share how their journey with HbA1c and ‘knowing their diabetes numbers’ has helped them manage their diabetes and stay in good health.
Warren and his doctor use his HbA1c results to make sure he’s on track with his diabetes management.
Yvonne checks her HbA1clevels twice a year and recently achieved her best result since diagnosis eight years ago.
Charmaine uses her HbA1c results to understand and stay motivated about her diabetes management.
WHAT IS HbA1c?
When you live with diabetes, checking your blood glucose levels at home tells you what is happening at a particular moment in time and gives you information to help with the daily management of your diabetes.
The HbA1c test (also known as the A1c or glycated haemoglobin test) is a way of looking at your average blood glucose level over a three month period. It can help you and your healthcare team make decisions about your diabetes care.
Your doctor will recommend an HbA1c level based on your life stage and particular circumstances. Usually this will be around 7% (53 mmol/mol), although this can vary.
WHY DO HbA1c LEVELS MATTER?
Your blood glucose level is constantly changing. It goes up and down based on when and what you’ve eaten, during and after exercise, if you are stressed and with your diabetes-related medication. Checking your blood glucose levels at home helps you make day to day decisions around managing your diabetes.
Even if you check your blood glucose levels several times a day you may miss the highest and lowest points. The HbA1c test is an average so it will capture all of the highs and lows. To use a cricket analogy – using your blood glucose meter at home is like looking at a batsman’s performance on a single day, the HbA1c test is like looking at the batsman’s batting average over a season.
The higher the HbA1c is above 7% the more likely you are to develop diabetes related complications like heart disease, stroke, nerve damage and eye complications.
HOW DOES THE HbA1c TEST WORK?
Some of the glucose in your blood attaches to a part of your red blood cells. When your blood glucose is high more glucose attaches to the red blood cells. When blood glucose is low less glucose attaches to the red blood cells. This attachment is permanent for the life span of the red blood cell which is about three months. That’s why the HbA1c gives you a snapshot of your blood glucose levels over the past three months.
It is recommended that you have an HbA1c test every 6-12 months, although your GP or specialist may choose to test your HbA1c more frequently.
WHERE CAN I TAKE AN HbA1c TEST?
You have a few options to choose from when taking an HbA1c test.
Your doctor can ask for an HbA1c test to be included in your regular blood tests.
Some clinics offer a point-of-care check. This involves taking a drop of blood from your fingertip and within about 10 minutes you can get your HbA1c numbers.
Or you can purchase a home test. With this option you take a finger prick sample at home, place a couple of spots of blood onto a card and mail this card to the lab. You will get your HbA1c results delivered online within a few days and you can take them to your doctor or healthcare team to discuss how to best manage your diabetes.
Know your diabetes numbers
© 2019 This project is proudly sponsored by Novo Nordisk and supported by Diabetes NSW & ACT