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Testing Diabetes With
The Gly-Hb Blood Test


There is a lab test available for diabetes called the Gly-Hb Test. This article seeks to explain the test to patients, their relatives, and health workers who may not be aware of the test. The Gly-Hb shows the degree to which the patient is managing his or her diabetes.

As the name suggest the Gly-Hb blood test relies on the process where ‘glucose’, the principal circulating sugar in the blood, becomes attached to the ‘haemoglobin’, a protein which is found in the red blood cells. This is called glycation or glycosylation and the resulting product of this fusion is Glycated Haemoglobin (Gly-Hb) . Testing for Gly-Hb makes available more information than an ordinary blood sugar test.

As red blood cells have a life span of about 120 days, by measuring the level of Gly-Hb present after the cell dies, the amount of glucose that became attached to the haemoglobin may be determined. In the early stages of their life cycle red blood cells are more susceptible to the attachment of glucose. Measuring the Gly-Hb therefore provides an average of the glucose that became attached (level of sugar in the blood) over a two to three month period.

To grasp the scope of the Gly-Hb test, consider the following: A patient may poorly manage his or her diabetes and yet, because of adhering to a strict regimen of diet and exercise for a few days immediately prior to testing, gain favourable test results and on the inverse the patient who manages his or her diabetes well, will gain negative results. With the Gly-Hb test this paradox of results in relation to life style is eliminated as the sugar level over a longer period of time is measured.

Studies have indicated: when Gly-Hb test results are compared with Fasting Blood Sugar (FBS) test results as an average there is no significant difference however when compared as ‘paired results’ statistical (t-test) reveal very significant differences between the two. It is therefore suggested that the Gly-Hb test be a key component for the reliable monitoring of the patients blood sugar management.

Although it is important the Gly-Hb test need not be administered as often as the FBS. How often the test is needed is determined by the attending physician and how well the patients diabetes is controlled.

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