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Glycohemoglobin (GHB), Total

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What is Glycohemoglobin?

Glycohemoglobin is often referred to as glycosylated hemoglobin, or hemoglobin that is bound with glucose. A glycohemoglobin blood test can distinguish levels of glycosylated hemoglobin in the bloodstream. This is extremely important in the detection of long-term blood sugar levels in those suspected to have diabetes or in those already diagnosed with diabetes. In healthy adults, glycohemoglobin levels range between 3.9 percent and 7.3 percent. In diabetic adults, levels are generally below 9 percent.

Gycohemoglobin Rather Than Glucose Testing

Blood glucose testing is good for the short term, as it tells a patient how much glucose is in the blood at that moment in time. However, this does not explain how well blood sugar is being controlled over a longer time period, which may affect treatment options. This is because blood glucose testing measures levels of glucose floating around free in the blood. This level varies over time and is dependent on outside factors such as diet and exercise.

The glycohemoglobin blood test gives a better long-term picture of how well a patient is managing his or her diabetic care. As glucose travels in the bloodstream, it attaches itself to hemoglobin. This is a slow and continual process, so if blood sugar levels remain high for extended periods, there is going to be more glycosylated hemoglobin in the blood.

If blood sugar levels are generally lower with just brief periods of heightened levels, there will be less hemoglobin with glucose attached. In this manner, the glycohemoglobin blood test shows how much glucose the hemoglobin was exposed to in the past 120 days, or the approximate life of red blood cells. Testing of glycohemoglobin is important for those suspected of having diabetes as a diagnostic tool. Checking hemoglobin for glucose is a more accurate method of testing blood sugar levels to positively diagnose a patient with diabetes.

Diabetes Screening Recommendations

It is also extremely important for those already diagnosed with diabetes to have glycohemoglobin levels checked in conjunction with long-term care. The American Diabetes Association recommends that a baseline glycohemoglobin test should be performed prior to treatment, then regularly at intervals of every three to four months. This will help determine a patient's compliance with treatment, the effectiveness of current treatment, and a patient's risk of developing complications from diabetes.

The risk of diabetic complications is lessened when levels are closer to seven percent. The International Diabetes Federation recommends that diabetics try to maintain glyohemoglobin levels at or below 6.5 percent. Diabetic complications can be severe and can include, but are not limited to, the following: eye problems, nerve damage, heart disease, skin infections, kidney disease and impotence. There is no need to fast prior to the blood test. You may eat and drink normally. No other preparations are necessary. Several factors may affect the results of your test. These include pregnancy, kidney or liver problems, conditions that affect the blood, blood loss or transfusion, ovary problems, high cholesterol and steroid treatment.

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