Everything You Need To Know About A1C
What is A1C?
Hemoglobin A1C, also called A1c, HBA1C, or glycated hemoglobin is the percentage of red blood cells with glucose attached.
What does the A1C test measure?
The A1C test measures the average glucose level over three months. In addition, it lists the ups, downs, and in-betweens of how well your body is processing and managing glucose.
The A1C test is different from a blood glucose monitor check, as these monitor your glucose level live.
Using A1C, and day-to-day glucose results is a good way of measuring how well diabetes is managed.
What Is The Recommended A1C For People With Diabetes?
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends an A1C goal of <7% in most adults (not pregnant). Some healthcare providers may recommend an A1C of <6.5% if they can maintain it without adverse effects or events, such as frequent hypoglycemia.
An A1C of <8% is also thought to be appropriate for people:
We recommend that you discuss your personal target goals with your care team.
How often should I measure A1C?
ADA’s recommendation for measuring A1C is at least two times a year. This recommendation is for those that are currently meeting their treatment goals. If you’re not meeting treatment goals, A1C should be monitored quarterly unless your doctor specifies otherwise.
Is the A1C test accurate for everyone?
Since the A1C test has been made available (about 40 years), it has become a common way to measure glucose control. However, in the last several years, some questions have been raised about the potential limitations of A1C:
- Is the A1C accurate for everyone?
- It may not be accurate for some people, including people of African-American descent, liver and kidney disease, or some anemias and sickle cell disease.
- How much detail does the test give?
- It doesn’t give a detailed perspective. The test shows overall trends but does not give the same level of details as daily glucose checking.
Can A1C Be Used To Diagnose Prediabetes and Diabetes?
Yes, in 2010, the ADA endorsed the use of the A1C test as a way to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes.
How Can I Lower My A1C?
Watch What You Eat! While carbohydrates (sugars) are known to increase your blood sugar, they are necessary for your body to function. Avoid white bread, pasta, and rice. Instead, try whole-grain bread, non-starchy vegetables, and protein (i.e. poultry, fish, tofu, and beans).
Lose weight. Studies have shown that losing 5-7% of your current weight may be enough to lower your risk of diabetes if you are prediabetic or high risk.
Manage stress and mental health. Stress and anxiety can directly impact your blood sugar levels by increasing cortisol levels in your body. Cortisol increases sugar levels in your body in preparation for fight or flight. Pick something that brings you peace such as going for a walk, singing, writing, yoga, meditation, or cooking favorite meal.
Follow doctor’s orders. Your doctor will be able to personalize your plan of action in preventing or combating diabetes. Medications may be a part of the equation, so make sure to take them as prescribed.