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From Ohio, USA:

Could you explain to me the A1C? I thought it was an average of the intake of sugar of 3 months, but was recently told something else. What does it average during the 3 month period?


Hemoglobin A1C is an average of the blood sugar over the past 2-3 months. Hemoglobin A1C is a variant of normal Hemoglobin A in red cells which has sugar attached to it. The amount of sugar that attaches is proportional to the blood sugar. The body is continuously breaking down old red cells and making new red cells. The life of an average red cell is approximately 90 days. The amount of Hemoglobin A1C in red cells is therefore roughly proportional to the average blood sugar over the past 3 months.


[Editor's comment: The exact terminology to use to describe this test is not yet completely settled. Doctors might use the terms glycohemoglobin, or hemoglobin A1c, or glycated hemoglobin to describe this test. There also are several abbreviations used, including HbA1c, A1c, A1C, and GHB. Sometimes, we just say "glyco" to refer to the test. And, to make things a bit confusing, if they're not already, technically the stuff that's measured can be either A1c, or A1. WWQ]

Original posting 10 Apr 97


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:54
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