Guest Post David Mapletoft, Diabetes Educator
What is the HbA1c or A1c?
The haemoglobin A1c blood test (HbA1c or A1c) is an important tool in your diabetes self care plan. This test shows the average level of glucose in your blood over the last 6 to 8 weeks.
This test is measured by having a blood sample taken from a vein (usually at a pathology service) and measured in a laboratory. A doctor must order this test for you.
The results give you and your health care team a “snapshot” of your Blood Glucose Levels over the previous couple of months. This is very useful information to help you and your team decide how well your diabetes self care plan is working.
With the information in the A1c test, you and your health care team can decide whether to make changes in your medication (insulin or tablets), diet, and exercise plan. Then, by having your A1c tested again three months later, you can see if the changes you made have improved your Blood Glucose Level management. You can then make more changes in your self-care plan, if needed, and then test your A1c again each 3 months to see if things are working, or need more changes.
The process of changing your treatment plan and testing your A1c should continue until your A1c value reaches the target you and your health care team have set. This is usually 7% or less – depending on your individual circumstances and the region that you live in.
Even when your diabetes is well managed, it is suggested that you have your HbA1c measured each 3 months. At the very least each 6 months.
How often should you be checking your Blood Glucose Level ?
Diabetes can be silently causing harm inside your body – not giving you any warning signs that there is a problem. i.e. symptoms such as tiredness, thirst, increased urination, blurred vision may NOT be present even if your Blood Glucose Level is in the unhealthy range.
Many people do not check their Blood Glucose Level. Or they have random tests or tests measuring the Blood Glucose Level at a less than optimal time.
By having a regular HbA1c this can help you get back on track (if you have drifted off) and reduce your risk of diabetes associated health problems over time.
By testing your A1c regularly, you will be able to change your treatment plan whenever it becomes necessary.
By making an appointment with you GP each 3 months you can have your HbA1c checked, and at the same time Blood Pressure and any other appropriate checks like cholesterol, kidney function, etc
Some questions to ask your GP:
- Do you know when my HbA1c was last tested, and was it in the target range?
- Would you please explain the results of my last HbA1c test?
- Are there things that I could be doing to improve my HbA1c level?
- Are there any changes needed to my diabetes medication/s? i.e. a dose change or a change in the type of diabetes medication I am taking?
Remember…….One of the most important things to dealing with life with diabetes is communicating and connecting with people who understand. Head across to our supportive group on Facebook here.
David – Diabetes Educator