What is HbA1C and What It Means for People with Diabetes?

October 29, 2015 9:07 am
HbA1c and diabetes

If you are living with diabetes and looking to understand how your daily blood sugar averages over time, your HbA1c level can tell you how well you have been managing your diabetes over the past two to three months. The HbA1c test is used to both diagnose diabetes and monitor how well your diabetes treatment plan is functioning. How often your HbA1c level is tested is based on which type of diabetes you have, if you are administering insulin or other medications, and is directed by your doctor and diabetes treatment team.[1]

Unlike a normal blood sugar test that you take with your Dario that evaluates your blood sugar at that specific moment, the HbA1c measures what percentage of your hemoglobin (the protein which carries oxygen in your red blood cells) is covered with glucose. The time frame for the HbA1c is based on the life cycle of red blood cells that live for up to three months at a time before your body generates new red blood cells.[2]  In many regions the standard method of reporting an HbA1c reading is as a percentage, however other locations like the UK are starting to report A1C as mmol/L instead of the percentage measure.[3]The higher the percentage, the higher your blood sugar levels have been over the past three months.

Discuss with your doctor how many times a year you need to have your Hba1c level tested and make it apart of your treatment plan. There is nothing that you need to do to prepare for your Hba1c test. Since there is no need to fast, you can eat and drink as you normally would without affecting the results. In order to be diagnosed with diabetes, two separate tests with an HbA1c level 6.5% and above are the necessary indications. Those with an HbA1c a range between 5.7% and 6.4% can be deemed pre-diabetic. For those living with diabetes, a goal of 7% or less is a common target goal.[4] The higher your A1C level is there is an increased risk of developing diabetes complications like retinopathy and peripheral neuropathy.

The best way to keep your HbA1c level down, is to do your best over time to keep your blood sugars in their target range as much as possible. Since blood sugar level knowledge is power in diabetes management, test yourself regularly. Count those carbs and calories and adjust your insulin doses accordingly. The Dario insulin calculator really helps to take out some of the guess work in managing your insulin doses well. And since we are fans of fitness here at Dario, get in a least 30 minutes of movement daily to decrease or keep your HbA1c level.

[1] NIH (2014). The A1C Test and Diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). NIH Publication No. 14-7816.

[2] Mayo Clinic Staff (2013). Test and Procedures: A1C test. Mayo Clinic.

[3] http://www.diabetes.co.uk/hba1c-to-blood-sugar-level-converter.html

[4] Mayo Clinic Staff (2013). Test and Procedures: A1C test. Mayo Clinic.