Know your health

HbA1C – What is it and how it is used

The term HbA1C refers to glycated Haemoglobin or Glycosylated Haemoglobin. It develops when Haemoglobin, a protein within red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body, joins with glucose in the blood, to become ‘glycated’.

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HbA1c levels are reflective of blood glucose levels over the past six to eight weeks and do not reflect daily ups and downs of blood glucose. For people with diabetes this is important as the higher the HbA1c, the greater the risk of developing diabetes-related complications.

When the body processes sugar, glucose in the bloodstream naturally attaches to Haemoglobin.

The amount of glucose that combines with this protein is directly proportional to the total amount of sugar that is in your system at that time.

Because red blood cells in the human body survive for 8-12 weeks before renewal, measuring glycated haemoglobin (or HbA1c) can be used to reflect average blood glucose levels over that duration, providing a useful longer-term gauge of blood glucose control.

If your blood sugar levels have been high in recent weeks, your HbA1c will also be greater.

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