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A1C and Diabetes

What is an A1C, When should I test it, and what does the result mean?

· Type 1 Diabetes,Type 2 Diabetes,Diabetes Solutions,Diabetes Support

The A1C test is a common blood test used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes
and then to measure how well you're managing your diabetes. The A1C test goes by
many other names, including glycated hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin,
hemoglobin A1C and HbA1c.

The A1C test result reflects your average blood sugar level for the past two to three
months. Specifically, the A1C test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin is
coated with sugar. The higher the A1C level, the poorer your blood sugar control and
the higher your risk of diabetes complications.

After a diabetes diagnosis, the A1C test is used to monitor your diabetes treatment
plan. Since the A1C test measures your average blood sugar level for the past two to
three months instead of your blood sugar level at a specific point in time, it is a
better reflection of how well your diabetes treatment plan is working overall.
Your doctor will likely use the A1C test when you're first diagnosed with diabetes.
This also helps establish a baseline A1C level. The test may then need to be repeated
while you're learning to control your blood sugar.

Afterwards, the frequency of an A1C test depends on the type of diabetes you have,
your treatment plan and how well you're managing your blood sugar.

The A1C test may be recommended:
• pre-diabetics: once a year which indicates a high risk of
developing diabetes
• type 2 diabetics: Twice a year if you don't use insulin and your blood
sugar level is consistently within your target range
diabetes or you have trouble keeping your blood sugar level within your target range
• type 1 diabetics: every three months

• type 2 diabetics who use insulin to manage: Four times a year


You may need more frequent A1C tests if your doctor changes your diabetes
treatment plan or you begin taking a new diabetes medication.


How to prepare to take the A1C test:
The A1C test is a simple blood test. You can eat and drink normally before the test.
During the A1C test, a member of your health care team simply takes a sample of
blood by inserting a needle into a vein in your arm or pricking the tip of your finger
with a small, pointed lancet. The blood sample is sent to a lab for analysis. You can
return to your usual activities immediately.


How to analyze the A1C results:
For someone who doesn't have diabetes, a normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent.
Someone who's had uncontrolled diabetes for a long time might have an A1C level
above 8 percent.

When the A1C test is used to diagnose diabetes, an A1C level of 6.5 percent or
higher on two separate occasions indicates you have diabetes. A result between 5.7
and 6.4 percent is considered pre-diabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing
diabetes.


It's important to note that the effectiveness of A1C tests may be limited in certain
cases.

The A1C test may be recommended:
• pre-diabetics: once a year which indicates a high risk of
developing diabetes
• type 2 diabetics: Twice a year if you don't use insulin and your blood
sugar level is consistently within your target range
diabetes or you have trouble keeping your blood sugar level within your target range
• type 1 diabetics: every three months

• type 2 diabetics who use insulin to manage: Four times a year

For example:

• If you experience heavy or chronic bleeding, your hemoglobin stores may be
depleted. This may make your A1C test results falsely low.
• If you have iron-deficiency anemia, your A1C test results may be falsely high.
• Most people have only one type of hemoglobin, called hemoglobin A. If you
have an uncommon form of hemoglobin (known as a hemoglobin variant), your A1C
test result may be falsely high or falsely low. Hemoglobin variants are most often
found in people of African, Mediterranean or Southeast Asian heritage. Hemoglobin
variants can be confirmed with lab tests. If you're diagnosed with a hemoglobin
variant, your A1C tests may need to be done at a specialized lab for the most
accurate results.
• If you have had a recent blood transfusion or have other forms of hemolytic
anemia, this test would not be useful, as results may be falsely low.

Keep in mind that the normal range for A1C results may vary somewhat among
labs. If you consult a new doctor or use a different lab, it's important to consider this
possible variation when interpreting your A1C test results.

Note that The Spike App can help you log your insulin injections if you end up having a high A1C level.

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