The A1C (pronounced A-one-C) test, also known as glycated hemoglobin or HbA1c, measures average blood glucose control for approximately the 3 months. The results can help health care providers – and their patients – know if the diabetes treatment plan is working or if adjustments to treatment are needed.
A1C is measured by a simple blood test performed in a laboratory. The American Diabetes Association recommends that most people with diabetes have their A1C level checked at least twice a year.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes strive for an A1C goal of less than 7%. An A1C for a person without diabetes is approximately 4-6%.
Why is understanding average blood glucose control important in the management of diabetes?
Glycated Hemoglobin – HbA1C $58.00
In 1993, when the landmark Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) was completed, the importance of A1C as an indicator of risks for the complications of diabetes, such as blindness, kidney disease and nerve damage was firmly established. The DCCT demonstrated that keeping A1C closer to normal reduces the risk for diabetes-related complications. As A1C increases, so does the risk of complications.
In 1994, the American Diabetes Association began recommending specific A1C treatment goals based on the results of the DCCT. From that time on, the goal for most people with diabetes has been less than 7%.
What is the difference between A1C and the blood glucose measure obtained through daily self-monitoring?
A1C results, which tend to be measured at least 2 times a year as part of a visit with the doctor, measure average blood glucose control over the past 2 to 3 months. Results from the A1C test are reported in percentage points (i.e., A1C of 7%).
When people with diabetes test their blood glucose through daily self-monitoring, those results are reported in different units – mg/dl (i.e., 170 mg/dl). They represent the level of glucose in the blood at that moment in time, but do not give any indication of what the level is at other times of day.
Why is daily self-monitoring of blood glucose so important?
Although the A1C test is an important tool, it can’t replace daily self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG). A1C tests don’t measure a person’s day-to-day control. People with diabetes can’t adjust their insulin on the basis of their A1C tests. That’s why blood glucose checks and log results are so important to staying in good control.
The A1C test alone is not enough to measure good blood glucose control. But it is a good resource to use along with your daily blood glucose checks, to work for the best possible control.