Understanding Your A1C

360,000 people in Arkansas have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, and another 800,000 have prediabetes. How can you tell if you are in one of these groups? Your A1C score tells you.

What’s A1C?

A1c stands for hemoglobin A1c, or glycosylated hemoglobin. The A1c test is a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar level over the past 2 to 3 months. A result of 5.7 to 6.4 can show pre-diabetes, while a number of 6.5 or more is a sign of Type 2 diabetes.

Adults over 45 should have a baseline A1c test. However, Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common in younger people. If you are overweight or diabetes runs in your family, you might ask your doctor whether you should have an A1c test even if you are younger than 45. 

If you are diabetic, you should have an A1c test at least twice a year. This is in addition to your regular blood glucose testing. Your regular testing shows your blood glucose at the moment you test, while the A1c shows an average for the preceding months. That includes times like right after meals or when you’re sleeping, when you probably don’t test.

If your A1c shows pre diabetes, your doctor might suggest taking the test again within a year or two. You will receive lifestyle change suggestions. Taking the test again will show whether those changes are helping you keep your A1c at a healthy level.

What if your A1c is high?

If you are pre-diabetic, reducing your blood sugar level can keep you from developing diabetes. But even if you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, your A1c level is important. The lower your A1c, the lower your chances of developing complications of diabetes

An A1c level of 9 or more tells you that your blood glucose level has been over 200 on average. This means that you are at risk of complications including vision loss, nerve damage, kidney disease, stroke, and more. 

Your doctor or diabetes educator will probably suggest changes in your diet and exercise routine to help you reduce your A1c. You may also benefit from medications designed to help decrease blood glucose levels. 

Talk with your primacy care physician about A1c testing.