How to Read Your A1C

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CDC infographic

Your doctor may order an A1c hemoglobin test for a number of reasons. You may be predisposed to diabetes, you may currently have diabetes or you may be dealing with other health issues that put you at risk for glucose concerns. When the A1c test is performed, average blood sugar can be measured over the course of the last  three months rather than just at the moment of the test, which is often what occurs with a finger prick test. Knowing your numbers and understanding your blood sugar results is important for both you and your doctor so that you can better manage conditions like type 1 diabetes.

How Is The Test Performed?

When you have blood taken via non-fasting blood work, the hemoglobin in your blood will be tested for glucose numbers. When we consume sugar, some of it ends up in our bloodstream and it will attach itself to our hemoglobin. As long as the red blood cell is alive, the glucose will remain there. On average, red blood cells live for about three months in the body which is why the A1c provides glucose results from the past three months or so. Elevated levels of glucose in the blood show there is a problem that needs to be addressed and you will get these results in percentages. A small sample of blood is all that is needed for the A1c to be processed and recently, some at-home A1c tests have hit the market to provide you results from the comfort of your own home that you can report back to your doctor.

Interpreting The Results

Glucose will be found on the red blood cells of every patient that has this test performed. The overall percentage of glucose is what either tells your doctor that you are doing well, or that there is a problem present. Your average person who does not have diabetes and does not have any current risk factors for diabetes will have an A1c percentage of about five percent or below. Six percent to seven percent indicates that there is a predisposition for diabetes and the patient may be diabetic. Anything over seven percent or eight percent indicates that the patient is not currently being managed properly and needs to make some changes regarding a healthy diabetes diet and lifestyle.

People who have diabetes need to properly manage their condition in order to live a long and healthy life. Closely monitoring your A1c glucose levels can not only help you better manage your diabetes but you can often times reverse early onset diabetes. Preventing diabetes complications that affect the kidneys, nerves and eyes is important and ideal.

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