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What is HbA1c?

HbA1c is a laboratory test that is used for the diagnosis and evaluation of diabetes mellitus, both type 1 and 2. When the levels of sugar are high in the blood, the excess sugar binds to hemoglobin through a process called glycation and results in the formation of HbA1c; the HbA1c test measures the amount of this hemoglobin A that is linked to sugar. As the life span of red blood cells that carry hemoglobin is about 120 days, HbA1c test predicts the sugar levels over the past 8-12 weeks, thus providing a measure of how well sugar levels in the body were maintained over the past 2-3 months.

Alternate names

  • Glycated Hemoglobin
  • Hemoglobin A1c
  • A1c
  • Hb1c

Is the HbA1c procedure an elective or an emergency procedure?

HbA1c is generally done as an elective procedure.


HbA1c may be measured in the laboratory using the following methods:

  • Immunoassay
  • Boronate affinity chromatography
  • High-performance liquid chromatography
  • Enzymatic assay
  • Capillary electrophoresis


HbA1c is indicated for the following:

  • Diagnosis of prediabetes
  • Diagnosis of type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • Monitoring the response to diabetes treatment

Contraindications & Risk factors

Factors that can negatively influence the results of an HbA1c test include:

  • Recent blood transfusion
  • Recent severe blood loss
  • Anemia
  • Pregnancy
  • Presence of hemoglobin variants other than hemoglobin A

Preoperative advice

No special advice or preparation is needed.

Intraoperative details

The procedure is done as a simple lab test, where a sample of blood is drawn from a vein in the arm and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

Post-operative advice

No specials care or precautions are required after the test.

Role of diet/ Exercise/ Lifestyle changes

No lifestyle modifications or measures are needed before or after the test.


There are no complications associated with the HbA1c test.


The HbA1c is a standard and reliable test that is very useful in the diagnosis and management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. The results may vary depending on the technique used for analysis. It is a good predictor tool for the assessment of the effectiveness of treatment as well as for modification of treatment. Individuals with high HbA1c levels are at a greater risk of developing complications and severe disease.

When to contact the doctor or hospital? / Indications for hospitalization if required

Hospitalization is not required for the HbA1c test.

Suggested clinical specialist/ Departments to consult for this procedure

  • General Medicine
  • Endocrinology

Additional Information

The results of the HbA1c test may be interpreted as follows:

  • A1c level less than 5.7% – normal
  • A1c level 5.7 - 6.4% – prediabetes
  • A1c level more than 6.5% – diabetes

For individuals with diabetes the results indicate the following:

  • A1c levels less than 7% - good control
  • A1c levels 7-8% - unsatisfactory control
  • A1c levels more than 8% - poor control
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