Understanding HBA1C Testing in the Philippines

Get yourself tested and monitored for diabetes today with any of the HBA1C testing centers in the country. 

According to the data gathered by the Philippine Health Statistics, Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death among Filipinos. By 2016, over six million have been diagnosed with the disease, as declared by the Philippine Center for Diabetes Education Foundation. 

That said, it cannot be ignored that diabetes is a prevalent affliction among many Filipinos. However, unlike many diseases whose symptoms can be treated easily, diabetes has no known cure. It can only be monitored and controlled, with some individuals even going into remission. To better manage diabetes, management of blood sugar levels complemented by a good understanding of the disease would be required. 

Diabetes overview

Diabetes is medically defined as a chronic and long-lasting health condition that impacts how your body turns food into energy. Most of what you eat gets broken down into sugar or glucose and released into your bloodstream. A signal for your pancreas to release insulin is when your blood sugar shoots up. Insulin is an anabolic hormone that allows the body to utilize glucose, a type of sugar found in most carbohydrates, for energy. Essentially, insulin is a chemical messenger that helps various body cells to absorb glucose from the blood. 

Individuals suffering from diabetes either cannot make insulin sufficient for the body or cannot use the insulin the body produces as effectively as it should. Unfortunately, when there is a shortage of insulin or when cells have stopped responding to it, your bloodstream retains glucose. As a result, the individual may potentially develop a melange of severe health problems such as vision loss, heart and kidney disease.

Diabetes management 

Diabetes, albeit without a cure, can be managed with proper treatment and monitoring. Some of the known effective interventions are to lose weight, eat healthy food and have a regular exercise regimen. Additionally, individuals afflicted with diabetes would also need to take their medications as needed. 

Moreover, proper treatment and regulation of diabetes require constant monitoring. That said, regular HbA1c testing in the Philippines is recommended. 

What is HbA1c testing? 

hba1c testing device for small laboratories
HumaMeterA1c system, used for HbA1c testing to diagnose diabetes mellitus and monitor long-term glycaemic control

An Hba1C (Hemoglobin A1c) test measures the amount of glucose found attached to the hemoglobin. Hemoglobins are found in your red blood cells and are responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body.

Hba1c tests determine the average amount of glucose attached to the hemoglobin over the last three months. Three months is the typical average of which a red blood cell lives. In this regard, measuring HbA1c enables clinicians to get a general overview of what an individual’s average blood sugar levels have been for over several weeks or, as stated above, months.

If an individual’s HbA1c levels are high, this can be an indicator of diabetes. Other names for HbA1c are A1c, glycohemoglobin, glycated hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin. 

How does HbA1c give an accurate average measurement of average blood glucose? 

As the body processes sugar, glucose found in the bloodstream attaches to hemoglobin. The amount of glucose that combines with this protein should be directly proportional to the total amount of sugar found in the system at the time. 

Red blood cells can survive for 8-12 weeks in the body before renewal. In this regard, measuring HbA1c can be utilized to reflect the body’s average blood glucose levels over that duration. As a result, a longer-term and more helpful gauge of blood glucose control is reflected.

What are the uses of Hba1c testing? 

HbA1c testing is used to check for diabetes or prediabetes in individuals. Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar levels are lower than normal and would indicate that you are at great risk for getting diabetes. 

Diabetic individuals can use HbA1c tests to help monitor their glucose levels and condition. 

When should I have myself tested for HbA1c? 

An individual typically undergoes HbA1c testing when they develop symptoms for diabetes such as fatigue, increased thirst (polydipsia), increased urination (polyuria), and blurred vision. 

Similarly, a healthcare provider may prescribe this test for individuals who have a higher risk for developing diabetes with risk factors such as obesity, history of heart disease, high blood pressure, and physical inactivity. 

How is HbA1c testing conducted?

Once an individual has submitted themselves for an HbA1c test, a healthcare professional will take a blood sample. After needle insertion, a small amount of blood is drawn and collected into a vial or test tube. The entire test takes less than five minutes. 

Other relevant questions 

Are there any risks involved in taking the test? 

There is little to no risk involved in taking an HbA1c test. Apart from the brief pain you experience upon the insertion of the needle, there is no risk involved. 

What do I need to prepare for the test? 

Individuals who will undergo HbA1c testing do not need to undergo or do any special preparations.

What do the results mean? 

Results are typically shown in percentages as shown below: 

Normal: HbA1c below 5.7%
Prediabetes: HbA1c between 5.7% and 6.4%
Diabetes: HbA1c of 6.5% or higher 

Keep in mind that results may mean something different. For this reason, you need to consult your physician should you have any queries about your results. 

Diabetic individuals are recommended to regularly monitor their HbA1c levels and keep it below seven percent. Physicians may have other recommendations depending on an individual’s age, weight, underlying health issues, and other factors. 

Posted on: June 30, 2021