Using HbA1c Wisely

Dr Joyce Wu

writer

Dr Joyce Wu

Pathologist, Douglass Hanly Moir

Dr Joyce Wu

Glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) has been used for monitoring patients with established diabetes for many years but its diagnostic application is a more recent development. This article provides some background to the test, explains dual reporting of results and discusses the use of HbA1c in the diagnosis and monitoring of diabetes.

What is HbA1c?

Adult haemoglobin is predominantly (97% of total) HbA. HbA1c is formed when a glucose molecule non-enzymatically attaches to the N-terminal valine of the β-chain of HbA.

The amount of HbA1c formed is directly proportional to the average plasma glucose concentration during the 120-day life span of the erythrocyte, with recent plasma glucose contributing more than earlier concentrations. HbA1c is therefore a reflection of the average glycaemia over roughly the preceding 6–8 weeks and has a vital role in assessing the risk of an individual developing the complications of diabetes.1

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Dr Joyce Wu

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Dr Joyce Wu

Pathologist, Douglass Hanly Moir

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