Q. How is this test performed?
This test is performed on a blood sample. A syringe with a fine needle is used to withdraw blood sample from a blood vessel in your arm generally from the inner side of the elbow area. The doctor, nurse or the phlebotomist will tie an elastic band around your arm which will help the blood vessels to swell with blood. This makes it easier to withdraw blood. You may be asked to tightly clench your fist. Once the veins are clearly visible, the area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then the needle is inserted into the blood vessel to collect the sample. You may feel a tiny pinprick during the procedure. Blood sample once collected is then sent to the laboratory.
Q. Is there any risk associated with this test?
There is no risk associated with the test. However, since this test involves a needle prick to withdraw the blood sample, in very rare cases, a patient may experience increased bleeding, hematoma formation (blood collection under the skin), bruising or infection at the site of needle prick.
Q. What is Hyperglycemia?
Hyperglycemia refers to a condition where the blood glucose level is above the normal range. This condition may indicate prediabetes or diabetes and may cause significant health problems.
Q. What are the symptoms of Hyperglycemia?
Symptoms of Hyperglycemia include:
frequent urge to urinate,
blurring of vision and slow wound healing.
Q. What is Hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia is the condition where the blood sugar levels fall below normal. This is commonly found in case of nutritional deficiency.
Q. What are the symptoms of Hypoglycemia?
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia include: Excessive sweating, frequent hunger, shivering or trembling, confusion and blurring of vision
Q. What are the risk factors for Diabetes?
The risk factors for diabetes are: Being obese or overweight with low physical activity, having a blood relative diagnosed with Diabetes, having been diagnosed with hypertension, having low High Density Lipoproteins or high triglyceride levels, being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, having been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Q. Is there any preparation required before the test?
Inform the doctor about the medications you may be taking. No other specific preparations are usually required before this test.
Q. Can factors other than hormones and diet affect my blood sugar levels?
Yes, blood sugar levels can be increased by certain medications, during pregnancy, and even temporarily due to stress.
Q. When can false results appear in the Glycated Hemoglobin Test?
False results can appear in patients of hemolysis, anemia, and Iron deficiency. False results may also appear in patients who have undergone blood transfusion recently.
Q. When is the Hemoglobin A1c Test insufficient to determine elevated blood sugar levels?
The HbA1c Test cannot determine acute changes in blood glucose levels that trigger a glucose shock. It also cannot determine any recent change in blood glucose level. The test is also insufficient to determine elevated blood sugar levels in people with variant hemoglobin like Hemoglobin S or Sickle Cell Hemoglobin since they have lower amount of Hemoglobin A in their blood.
Q. What are the common complications of diabetes?
Diabetes causes an increase in blood sugar levels. Increased sugar levels, if not controlled, can cause severe damage to the muscles and nerves. This may give rise to a number of complications over a period of time. Some common complications of uncontrolled diabetes include:
Heart diseases like coronary artery disease, heart attack;
Diabetic Retinopathy (damage to the retina) which may cause blindness;
Diabetic Neuropathy (damage to the nerves) at various parts of the body;
Diabetic Nephropathy (damage to the kidneys) resulting in chronic loss of kidney function; Diabetic foot which can cause foot ulcers that may turn gangrenous. Apart from these, uncontrolled diabetes may also lead to other severe conditions like hearing impairment, a number of skin conditions, and may even lead to death.
Q. What other tests can be prescribed by your doctor in case of abnormal result?
Additional tests that may be prescribed to diagnose diabetes in case of abnormal results are: Urine Glucose Test, Blood Glucose - Post prandial (PP), Random Blood Glucose Test, Fasting Blood Glucose Test and Oral Glucose Tolerance Test.
Q. How is the HbA1c test different from blood glucose test?
The blood glucose tests are performed to directly measure the concentration of glucose in your blood at the time of testing (single point in time). The HbA1c test indicates the trend of your blood glucose levels over a period of time (8-12 weeks), similar to an average, by measuring the percentage of glycated hemoglobin persisting in blood.
Q. What are the benefits of lowering your HbA1c level?
Lowered HbA1c level is an indication of sustained lowered or reduced blood glucose levels over a period of time. Long term reduced blood glucose levels in diabetic patients successfully prevents future complications of diabetes, including kidney complications, nerve damage, damage to the retina, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetic foot among others. Research has shown that a reduction of just about 1% in HbA1c level reduces the risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases by 45%.