A sign that ready HbA1c
What Your A1C Number Means and Why It Is Important to Know


Your A1c number means a lot and it is important to know. 

Imagine this…

Your body does so many cool things.

One thing that it does is with a protein we call hemoglobin. Hemoglobin transports oxygen and nutrients all around your body like a delivery truck.

It also picks up glucose along the way. That’s a fancy word for the sugar in our blood. After we eat the body transforms sugars into glucose. When it picks up glucose, it binds it to the hemoglobin protein.

What does “A1c” mean?

You may see that the blood test ordered by your doctor has one of the following:  HbA1c or hemoglobin A1c. These refer to the same thing, and A1c is the shortened name. This is a measure of the average level of your blood glucose (also known as blood sugar)  over the past 3 months or so.

They can measure this by measuring how much glucose has been bound to the hemoglobin protein.

A higher glucose level will result in a greater amount of this protein attaching to the hemoglobin.  This does not happen overnight. That is why the A1c test is good to look at over time. It can help you track your progress. It’s also helpful to keep you on track as you make healthy changes.

How often to test A1c

If you have Type 2 Diabetes, this test is best done every three months. It tracks any changes in your greater health and prevents complications from occurring.

Many doctors may only order this test 2 to 3 times per year. It’s likely going to be helpful for you to see the results more often. Looking at your A1c 4 times per year can help you see your progress. This is encouraging while you make healthy diet and lifestyle changes.

What is a good A1c?

An A1c number below 5.7% is a good number for anyone.

You will know if you are in the danger zone if your A1c is above 5.7%. You are pre-diabetic if you are between 5.7% and 6.4%. Discuss this with your doctor. A1c can and will come down over time. This happens when you make healthy diet and lifestyle changes.

Once you are above 6.4%, you will likely have to consider a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis[efn+note]American Diabetes Association Professional Practice Committee. 2. Classification and diagnosis of diabetes: Standards of medical care in diabetes—2022. Diabetes Care. 2022;45(Supplement_1):S17-S38. doi:10.2337/dc22-S002.[/efn_note].

When your A1c stays high, even over 5.7%, bad things start to happen to your organ systems. High blood sugar can lead to high blood pressure. Both of these things harm blood vessels. The tiny blood vessels in the eye are particularly sensitive.

We cover what will happen to your organs and systems if you do not get this under control in this article. Click here to read about what happens when your A1c stays high.

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