Haemoglobin variants may interfere with HbA1c values

Patient

Q: Is there any connection between hemoglobin A1C test results and having beta thalassemia minor? I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes with 6.8 tests results but wonder if having thalassmia minor affects this in any way

Doctor

A:   In people who have haemoglobin variants such as HbS (sickle cell trait) or persistent HbF (-thalassaemia major/minor), some A1C tests give falsely high or low readings that can lead to the over-treatment or under-treatment of diabetes. Laboratories use many different methods for measuring A1C, but some of these methods can give inaccurate results when the patient has a haemoglobin variant such as sickle cell trait or persistent fetal haemoglobin (HbF). I would advise discussing this result with your family doctor or endocrinologist, to make sure they are aware of your complete medical history. It may be necessary for the physician to contact the laboratory to find out the accuracy of that particular A1C method for patients with haemoglobin variants.

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