ABCDEs of Diabetes: All About the A1c

Why does my Doctor always ask for an A1C test?

A1C (glycosylated hemoglobin) is a lab test that gives you an overall idea of your blood sugar control. It is an average of your blood sugars over the last 2-3 months, measured in a percentage (%). The higher your blood sugar has been, the higher the A1C value will be.

Your doctor and healthcare team will use the A1C value to make adjustments to your oral medications and/or insulin to help decrease your blood sugars. You may have to re-do this test 2-4 times a year depending on your blood sugar control.

It is recommended to aim for less than 7.0% to help reduce your risk of diabetes complications. (Your doctor may also give you an individual target – always ask them what you should be aiming for).

The A1C can also be represented as a number in mmol/L which is the estimated average sugar. This number is easier to understand because it uses the same units (mmol/L) as your blood sugar meter.  The table below shows the estimated blood sugar which is linked to your A1C.

A1C (%) Estimated average blood sugar (mmol/L)
6 7.0
6.5 7.8
7 8.6
7.5 9.4
8.0 10.1
8.5 10.9
9 11.8
9.5 12.6
10.0 13.4

It is still important to check your blood sugars using your blood sugar meter.
Remember:  A1C is an average of your blood sugars. It does not show the high and low blood sugars over the past months. The blood sugar testing that you do at home gives your doctor and diabetes educator more “on the spot” and detailed information!

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