Knowing Your A1C—Another Tool for Blood Sugar Control
- What’s your A1C level?
- What’s a healthy A1C level?
did you last have your A1C checked?
often should you have it checked?
information does the A1C test give you about your diabetes control?
recent analysis by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
indicates that most people with diabetes don’t know much about their A1C at all.
Here’s an overview on what the A1C numbers mean, and how you can use the test
results to help manage your diabetes.
Why is the A1C important—and what is it, anyway?
A1C test (pronounced A-one-C), which used to be known as hemoglobin A-1-C, is a
measurement of your average blood sugar over the last two to three months.
Hemoglobin is a substance inside your red blood cells. It carries oxygen from
your lungs to all the cells of your body.
Hemoglobin links with sugar. When you have extra sugar in your blood, that sugar
links up with molecules of hemoglobin. The more sugar, the higher the hemoglobin
count, and the higher the percentage of A1C in your blood.
blood cells live for about 120 days. They hold a record of your blood sugar
levels for that period of time.
bigger picture than daily testing provides
extremely important to test your blood sugar as often as you need to every day.
That lets you know where you are now, each day, and helps you control your sugar
throughout the day.
your A1C count serves a different purpose. It gives you an overview of how well
your sugar is controlled in general. Just as one bad day at work doesn’t mean
you’ve had a whole bad month at work, one difficult day controlling your sugar
doesn’t tell your whole story either. You need the A1C for that.
What should your A1C number be?
People who don’t have diabetes usually have an A1C number of 5. If you have
diabetes, the goal is generally to keep your number at about 7 or lower. The
actual goal number for you is something to determine with your health care team
your number is too high, talk with your healthcare team about the types of
changes you can make that will help bring that number down.
How often should you have your A1C checked?
rule of thumb is that you should have your A1C checked about twice a year, but
that too, is something you should talk about with your doctor. If your treatment
plan has changed or if your sugar level stays too high, you’ll probably need to
have your A1C tested more frequently.
for some reason your doctor doesn’t bring up the A1C test during your routine
visits, be sure to ask about it anyway.
The lower the number, the greater the chances of slowing down complications
it gets down to it, the numbers are important, but only because they serve as
tools that help you control your diabetes. By keeping your blood sugar under
control, you can decrease your chances of developing the complications that come
with diabetes, such as amputations, kidney disease, heart disease and vision
loss. Every decrease in the A1C number helps, and that’s why your numbers are
Remember that—every decrease helps.
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists; The American Diabetes
Association; The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Disorders, “If you Have Diabetes, Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers.