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Diabetes is diagnosed by means of a blood test that determines a person’s blood sugar (glucose) levels. Normal blood glucose values range between 70 and 100 mg/dL.
This test analyses whether the analytical indicators are:
After fasting: equal to or higher than 126 mg/dL, in two measurements.
At any time of the day: equal to or greater than 200 mg/dL accompanied by characteristic symptoms, such as an increased need to urinate or excessive thirst.
After taking a glucose solution (75 g): above 200 mg/dL. This test is carried out on individuals whose glucose levels after fasting are between 100 and 126 mg/dL.
Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c): equal to or higher than 6.5%.
Glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) is an important parameter when assessing whether diabetes is controlled. It corresponds to the average blood sugar level over the last 2–3 months. The value of this parameter can be obtained through a blood test or a finger prick test (capillary blood glucose).
A person without diabetes has a HbA1c level of between 4% and 6%. Scientific societies generally recommend maintaining the level below 7%, so long as achieving this objective does not pose the risk of presenting low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia).
What should the A1c level be? The healthcare professional will give you advice about your target A1c level.
What happens if my A1c levels are greater than those recommended by my healthcare team? The higher your A1c level then the greater the risk of developing blood vessel complications and subsequently circulation problems. Similarly, a high level could affect the kidneys and eyes, as well as producing a lack of sensation in your lower limbs (neuropathy). Maintaining blood glucose levels under control and the A1c level within the recommended range will significantly reduce the occurrence of chronic complications.
How can I do this test? The test is carried out in a hospital or primary care setting every 3–6 months to evaluate how well you are controlling your diabetes.
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Substantiated information by:
Daría Roca EspinoNurse expert in Diabetes and Therapeutic EducationEndocrinology Department
Enrique Esmatjes MompoEndocrinologistEndocrinology Department
Irene Vinagre TorresEndocrinologistEndocrinology Department
Margarida Jansà MoratóNurse expert in Diabetes and Therapeutic EducationEndocrinology Department
Mercè Vidal FlorNurse expert in Diabetes and Therapeutic EducationEndocrinology Department
Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 24 November 2021
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