Things to Know About Hemoglobin A1C Levels

If you have diabetes or prediabetes or are at risk of developing either, your healthcare provider may have mentioned your hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C or A1C) levels. You may have learned that your A1C needs to be lower. If you are still trying to figure out what an A1C is and how you can lower it, read the blog below to know more about it.

Meaning of Hemoglobin A1C

We all are aware that our bloodstream is full of red blood cells. It contains a protein called hemoglobin that carries oxygen throughout the body. Glucose (sugar) also travels through the blood and binds with hemoglobin. When the two come together, they tend to create hemoglobin A1C, known as glycosylated hemoglobin.

You may wonder why your healthcare provider orders A1C testing every few months. The reason is that the life of a red blood cell is about three months. Glucose that sticks to the cells during the period provides the average A1C value.

Measurement of hemoglobin A1C levels

An A1C test measures the amount of glycosylated hemoglobin in your blood. Your A1C is written as a percentage that will give you an idea of how well-managed your blood sugar levels are over two to three months. It is also one of the numbers healthcare providers use to diagnose diabetes or prediabetes.

How is the A1C test different from the blood sugar finger prick?

For measuring the blood glucose or A1C level, you’ll have a blood drawn or finger-prick test from a vein. An A1C test is different from a blood glucose test. Here’s how:

  • An A1C test gives an average blood glucose level over a long time.
  • A blood glucose test tells you about your current glucose level.
  • Both these tests provide important information about the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose.

What does low or high A1C mean?

If you have a high A1C value, you have too much sugar in the blood and may have diabetes or prediabetes. So now, let’s take a look at the A1C target numbers.

  • If your A1C is 6.5% or high, it suggests that you have diabetes.
  • If your A1C is between 5.7% to 6.4%, it suggests that you have prediabetes.
  • A normal A1C is below 5.7%.

If you have diabetes, your treatment goal will target a specific A1C level. However, if, despite the treatment, your A1C is high than what is safer for you, it is a sign you and your care team need to make some amendments.

The reason why it is essential is that high glucose levels in the body may raise your risk of:

How to lower hemoglobin A1C levels

It is essential to understand that lowering the A1C levels is quite gradual. As discussed, your A1C, unlike the glucose test, measures your average blood sugar over two to three months. It means it may take up to 3 months to notice a significant change in your A1C.

Below are seven different kinds you can work on lowering your A1C over time.

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Medications for high A1C
  • Follow up with the healthcare provider
  • Manage mental health and stress
  • Find a community for self-management of diabetes

Conclusion

If you are one living with prediabetes or diabetes, lowering your hemoglobin A1C levels may help to reduce the risk of complications related to diabetes.

It is better if you understand more about the A1C test. It can make a difference in your diabetes management and overall health.

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