(as seen in Healthy Living by Ralph Cincinnati and Kristin Staniszewski)
The hemoglobin A1c or glycated hemoglobin is a laboratory test that calculates a three month average of blood sugars. Sugar sticks to red blood cells in the body and the red blood cells live for about three months before they die. When the red blood cells die, the resultant sugar is measured as hemoglobin A1c. The hemoglobin A1c is one of the key values used to determine how well a person’s diabetes is being controlled. In most labs, the normal range is 4-6%. A hemoglobin A1c of 6% equates to a blood sugar average for the previous three months of about 126 mg/dL. The higher the hemoglobin A1c, the higher the risk for complications developing from diabetes. In treating diabetes, a goal hemoglobin A1c is individualized for each person.
The hemoglobin A1c gives an overview for the previous three months as to what the blood sugars are doing in the body. However, this is only an average, so monitoring blood sugars at home is just as important in determining what is taking place on a daily basis.