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What Does A1C Mean and Why Do I Need to Know?

What Does A1C Mean and Why Do I Need to Know?

You may have heard your doctor mention your A1C level at your last appointment or noticed it on your bloodwork results. But, what does A1C mean?

Here we will tell you everything you need to know about A1C and why it’s important.

What Does A1C Mean?

The A1C test is a blood test that is performed to see if you are at risk of having, or already have, type 1 or 2 diabetes. It is also a metric to see how well you’re managing your diabetes if you already have a diagnosis.

It goes by a variety of different test names including:

  • Hemoglobin A1C
  • HbA1c
  • Glycated Hemoglobin
  • Glycosylated Hemoglobin

A high A1C number indicates poor blood sugar control and a greater risk of serious diabetes complications.

Why Do I Need The A1C Test?

During your routine bloodwork, your doctor will order the A1C test to be done if you have any indicators that diabetes may be present. These can include:

  • Being Overweight
  • Having a Family History of Diabetes
  • If You’re Showing Symptoms of Undiagnosed Diabetes Like:
    • Frequent Hunger
    • Rapid Weight Loss Despite Higher Calorie Intake
    • Extreme Thirst
    • Feeling Tired All The Time
    • Blurry Vision
    • Sores and Cuts Never Seem to Heal
    • Multiple Instances of Minor Infections

The test then helps your doctor make a determination about the correct route of care. The number shows them if you’re in the pre-diabetic stage, confirm a diagnosis of Diabetes 1 or 2, or can help your doctor manage the treatment plan you’re already on for your Diabetes.

How Often Will I Be Tested For A1C?

This all depends on your individual health profile. It will be performed as many times as it applies to your treatment plan but, as a general rule, here’s the timeline:

  • You’ll be tested once a year if you maintain indicators or have been found to be pre-diabetic
  • Twice a year testing is required if you don’t use insulin but you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This all depends if your blood sugar levels are consistently in the normal ranges and it seems well-controlled
  • Type 1 Diabetics will be tested four times per year
  • If your type 2 diabetes is not well-controlled you’ll also be tested four times a year to keep a close eye on things

Depending on your individual health and the doctor’s treatment plan you may be tested more or less. It’s a simple blood test so nothing to worry about even if you have to do it multiple times a year.

How Should I Prepare For My A1C Blood Test?

Always follow your doctor’s instructions as placed on your paperwork. Typically, the A1C test does not require fasting because they want to get an accurate baseline of your typical everyday levels.

Unless the paperwork states to fast you can eat and drink as normal before the test. It’s a simple blood test so you’ll have to go into a lab and have blood drawn. If you are known to feel faint after blood draws, make sure to have something to eat with you for after the test.

Your doctor’s office may also be able to do a same day finger prick test to give you immediate results.

What Do The Results Mean?

Your results for this test are reported as a percentage point range. Higher percentages equal higher average blood sugar levels. The higher the A1C the higher your risk.

A normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent. A level between 5.7 to 6.4 percent indicates pre-diabetes. This is also known as impaired fasting glucose. 

Having prediabetes puts you in a much higher risk category of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

If you show an A1C level of higher than 6.5 percent on two separate tests then you’re determined to have diabetes. Higher than 8 percent means you’re not well controlled and at a much higher risk of diabetic complications.

So, What Does A1C Mean? It Means You Have Time to Change Your Path

The best part about the A1C test is that it gives you early warnings of potential diabetes in the future. This gives you a chance to make changes for your health and avoid a diagnosis.

Make changes to your lifestyle and diet and you may be able to turn the ship around.

Are you looking for a new doctor? Do you have more questions about your A1C or want to get tested? Contact us today!