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Hemaglobin A1c is a test used to evaluate diabetes. A simple diabetes lesson first…the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin and it’s job is to move glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into muscle, fat and liver cells to be used as fuel. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin or, the muscle, fat and liver cells do not respond to insulin normally (insulin resistance). Now, the Hemaglobin A1c test is different from a finger stick or glucose level check.
Think of it in these terms….sugar sticks to stuff, and when it’s around for a long time, it’s harder to get rid of. In the body, sugar sticks too, particularly to proteins. Red blood cells circulate in the body live for about 3 months before they die. When sugar sticks to these cells, it gives us an idea of how much sugar has been around for the preceding 3 months. The benefits of measuring A1c is that it gives a more reasonable view of that’s happening over the course of time, not just the day of the test.