A1C A Sugary Story

HgbA1C, glycosylated hemoglobin and normal a1c

Diabetes, Diabetes Lab Tests, Endocrinology, Medicine

Hemoglobin A1c, HgbA1C , glycosylated hemoglobin or A1c for short, gives you a picture of your average blood sugar over 2 to 3 months. Red blood cells are tiny flexible discs responsible for carrying fresh oxygen throughout the body. Oxygen binds to hemoglobin, a special protein within these cells. Red blood cells are designed to CARRY oxygen, not burn it, so instead they rely on sugar for the energy they use to travel.

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HgbA1c, HbA1c measures how much sugar is attached to red blood cells.

To better understand the HgbA1c test, also known as glycosylated hemoglobin, you will need to remember the last time you ate fried dough at the county fair. For your enjoyment, small, delicious pieces of fried dough are thrown into a greasy paper bag with loads of powdered sugar. The bag is shaken up, mixing the sugar and the dough together, coating the dough with a sweet amount of sugary goodness. The more sugar added to the bag, the thicker the powdered coating will be. Your red blood cell is no different than a yummy dough ball! The more sugar the cell is exposed to, the more sugar that will attach to it over time.

Because we know that the red blood cell lives approximately 3 months, when we measure how much sugar has attached to it, doctors can estimate the average blood sugar over an extended period of time. This makes the HgbA1C a much better test than a finger stick.

A1C Levels for diabetics:

Normal A1c is considered anything equal or under 5.6%. Pre-diabetes is diagnosed when the A1C value falls between 5.7 and 6.4%. Diabetes is diagnosed when the test is 6.5% or higher.

A1c levels for diabetics: Normal A1C is 5.6 and below.
About the Author
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Chris Palmeiro D.O.

Dr. Palmeiro is Chairman of Endocrinology at the HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, he also serves patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the Westchester Institute of Human Development in Valhalla, New York. He has a Masters of Science degree in clinical nutrition and is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine. His interests within the realm of endocrinology include nutrition support, obesity counseling and the progressive management of diabetes.

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Last Modified: Sep 11, 2017 @ 5:34 pm

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A1c: A sugary story
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A1c: A sugary story
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Our short animated video teaches you everything you need to know about glycosylated hemoglobin: the test we use to diagnose diabetes.
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