What is the A1C test?

August 5, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

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While daily blood sugar monitoring is an essential part of your diabetes management don’t be surprised if you are asked to come into your doctor’s office or lab for routine A1C testing.

What is A1C?

Also known as a glycosylated hemoglobin A1C or Hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, Glycohemoglobin, Glycated hemoglobin, and Glycosylated hemoglobin, A1C is used primarily to identify the average plasma glucose concentration over prolonged periods of time.

So now you know that the A1C is a blood test that measures average blood glucose over the past 2 to 3 months and is the best way to measure overall glucose control. It should be measured 2 to 4 times a year and the goal is less than 7%.

What exactly does that mean?

Sugar naturally attaches itself to A1C molecules as they move through your bloodstream. When this happens, the molecule is considered “glycated.” The more sugar in your blood, the higher the percentage of glycated A1C molecules in your bloodstream. Glycated cells stay that way for about three months.

Thus the A1C test gives your blood glucose levels for those prior three months or so. The A1C is used to predict your risk for diabetes complications.

This is not a method to diagnose diabetes but a method along with daily blood sugar testing to monitor diabetes management and plan your individual care.

What should your target A1C be?

For most people with diabetes, the American Diabetes Association and the World Health Organization recommend an A1C of 7%. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, recommends an A1C of 6.5% or less.

This is always individualized and after monitoring your A1C, you and your health care team with decide your target A1C. In case you were wondering, A1C levels for a non diabetic are between 4 and 6 percent.

But think about this: by simply reducing your A1C from 9% to 7% you reduce your chance for diabetes complications by 70%.

And remember that you can fool yourself into thinking you have control but you can’t fool the numbers.

Suggested Values :

Source Medicine Net:


Mean blood sugar (mg/dl)
















Check out David Mendoza’s great article reporting from the annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association, held in June in San Francsico, on A1C testing devices.

Joslin Diabetes Center, Martin J. Abrahamson, MD. and medical director of Joslin Diabetes Center discusses the A1C in this YouTube video.

Battling Books:

Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes by Richard Jackson and Amy Tenderich

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2 Responses to “What is the A1C test?”
  1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing Bernard.

  2. A1C values are an important way to determine your averages over the previous 3 months. But there’s increasing evidence that tighter blood glucose control is also very important. If your blood sugar numbers vary widely (high glycemic variability), but your A1C value is good you may not be as well controlled as you think. A continuous glucose monitor is a help here because you can calculate averages AND how wide the values swing.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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