The A1C test, sometimes called HbA1C or haemoglobin A1C, is common for prediabetes and diabetes testing.
An A1C test is a blood test that measures the average level of blood within the last three months. It is common to diagnose diabetes and prediabetes. This test is also the primary blood test for managing diabetes.
High levels of A1C are a sign of diabetes complications, making maintaining a normal A1C result the goal for people with diabetes.
The A1C test measures the percentage of red blood cells with sugar-coated haemoglobin. When you take sugar and enter the bloodstream, the sugar attaches to haemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells. Sugar attaches to the haemoglobin, but those with higher blood sugar have more sugar attached to the haemoglobin.
Testing for prediabetes and diabetes: adults over 45 years or under 45 but overweight with one or several risk factors for type 2 diabetes and prediabetes need a baseline A1C test.
Managing diabetes: The A1C test is necessary at least two times a year if you have diabetes. More frequent testing is an option if you change medication or have other health issues. Your doctor will inform you how often you need A1C testing.
How to prepare for an A1C test
You can carry out this test in a lab or your doctor’s office using a blood sample from your finger or arm. No special preparation is necessary for an A1C test, but you should ask the doctor if you need other tests that need special preparation.
The table below shows the various ranges for A1C test result.
|5.7 – 6.4%
|6.5% and above
If your result shows an AIC level less than 5.7%, the result is normal, a result between 5.7 – 6.4% shows prediabetes, and 6.5% or higher indicates diabetes.
The higher the AIC result within the prediabetes range, the higher the risk for type 2 diabetes.
The value of the A1C result is in estimated average glucose (eAG). This value is the same as mg/dL shown on blood sugar meters.
Different factors can alter the result of an A1C test, such as:
If you have any of these conditions, ensure you inform your doctor and enquire about additional tests.
The goal for people who have diabetes is an A1C result of 7% or less. Your goal should depend on several factors, like other medical conditions or age. You can work with the healthcare provider to set an A1C goal.
Younger patients with diabetes have several years ahead, so the goal is mostly to lower the risk of complications, except they have hypoglycaemia. A higher goal often applies to older people and those with serious health issues.
A1C is essential for managing diabetes but doesn’t replace the benefits of regular blood sugar testing. Your blood sugar increases and reduces daily, and the A1C doesn’t show this change.
Two people can have an exact A1C value but have varying daily sugar levels. Tracking your sugar level will give you more information about your blood sugar, and you can inform your doctor for better treatment.