The HbA1C test measures the amount of glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) in your blood. Hemoglobin is the oxygen carrier in red blood cells and it becomes glycated hemoglobin when there is too much sugar in the blood. This test provides an indication of blood sugar control over the last 3 months.
Your doctor may request this test to see how well your diabetes is being managed, and if your therapy needs to be modified. Consistently high levels of HbA1C put you at greater risk of developing complications from diabetes.
This test is usually performed by a doctor or nurse in a doctor's office and involves a blood sample collection. The number of times the test is performed yearly depends on how well your blood sugar levels are controlled and if your medications are being adjusted. In general, the test is done every 3 to 6 months.
Risks and precautions
The hemoglobin A1C test is usually a straightforward and safe test. However, there are some risks of complications or side effects, including:
- infection (redness, swelling, pus)
- bruising at the blood collection site
- excess bleeding from the blood collection site
- lightheadedness or dizziness
Get immediate medical assistance if you experience any of these complications or side effects.
Some conditions or medications may put you at greater risk of side effects or complications. Tell your doctor if you have bleeding disorders or are taking medications that impair blood clotting (e.g., warfarin, aspirin, etc.).
Before the test
You do not need to do anything to prepare for this test.
If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications, supplements, or herbal products, make sure you inform your doctor or pharmacist. Ask them whether it is necessary for you to stop taking any of these medications and products before the test. It is also important to tell them if you have allergies to certain medications or have certain medical conditions.