It’s incredible how something that’s been around for more than thirty years – hemoglobin A1C – is just now becoming more well-known. At any rate, I saw an article about A1C today that was called “Future Diabetes Test.” I was intrigued because I misinterpreted that title. They did not mean that the A1C is coming out in the future – it’s already out! It meant that A1C is now being used to detect one’s chances of getting diabetes in the future.
The A1C is a measure of the amount of glucose attached to hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells. Here’s a nice video explanation of A1C. I remember way back in the 80s having blood drawn for something called “glycosylated hemoglobin.” Unfortunately, I don’t think they really knew what to do with the information until after the results of the DCCT were published.
During the 90s I remember my endocrinologists measuring my “hemoglobin A1” and for the last thirteen years it’s been called “A1C.” I have to admit I’ve never really understood all these names, so I did some checking. From this article I understand that there are three “fractions” of the hemoglobin A1 molecule. When the glucose content of all three are combined it’s called hemoglobin A1, otherwise the particular fraction is identified (e.g., “A1C”). Now it makes sense why my hemoglobin A1 was always higher than my A1C (as was the normal range).
If you are not familiar with A1C, it’s time to do some reading. A1C helps us figure out how we’re doing with our diabetes. While blood glucose monitoring gives us a snapshot of one moment in time, A1C helps us see the big picture. Talk to your health care provider about getting your A1C checked if you haven’t already.