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What You Need To Know About A1C

What is a1c? What is a1c test for diabetes

The A1C test, sometimes called HbA1C or haemoglobin A1C, is common for prediabetes and diabetes testing.

What is an A1C test?

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.

What does anA1C test measure?

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.

Who needs the A1C test, and when is the test necessary?

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.

  • If the baseline result is within the normal range and you are above 45 or have had gestational diabetes or risk factors, you must repeat the test every three years.
  • If the result indicates prediabetes, consult your healthcare professional about steps to maintain your health and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. You have to repeat the test as often as the doctor recommends. Ideally, every 1 – 2 years.
  • If no symptoms show and the result indicates diabetes or prediabetes, you need another test on a later date for confirmation.
  • If the result indicates diabetes, ask the doctor for a referral to a diabetes self-management education and support service to help you manage the condition.

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.

A1C test result

The table below shows the various ranges for A1C test result.

Normal result Below 5.7%
Prediabetes 5.7 – 6.4%
Diabetes 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.

Managing 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.

A1C% Eag mg/dL
7 154
8 183
9 212
10 240

What affects A1C results?

Different factors can alter the result of an A1C test, such as:

  • Liver disease, kidney failure, or severe anaemia
  • Late or early pregnancy
  • Blood transfusions or blood loss
  • Certain medications like HIV medicines and opioids
  • A less common haemoglobin type in people of Southeast Asian, Mediterranean, or African descent and those with blood disorders like sickle cell thalassemia or anaemia

If you have any of these conditions, ensure you inform your doctor and enquire about additional tests.

Your goal for A1C

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.

You can visit Blood London today for your AIC test or call 020 7183 0244 to book an appointment for your blood test London.