Why Would I Need This Test
The test for HbA1c is used to diagnose and monitor diabetes.
For people who have diabetes, the test is used to indicate how well the diabetes has been controlled over the last few months. People with diabetes are advised to have this test every 3 to 6 months, or more frequently if it is not under control.
This is important. The higher the HbA1c, the greater the risk of developing complications such as problems with your eyes and kidneys.
Making Sense Of The Numbers
There are charts available that tell you your estimated average glucose value, based on your A1c test result. For instance, if your A1c comes back at 8%, that may not mean a whole lot to you. The eAG translates the A1C into what our average glucose would read on our monitor if we checked blood sugar all day, every day, for the previous 2-3 months. So, and 8% A1C is an estimated blood glucose average of 183mg/dl. Milligrams per deciliter is the unit of measurement used in our blood sugar monitor. One thing that the A1C test does not account for is daily variability. For example, Bobs blood sugar could range from 50-300 on a regular basis and Marys blood sugar could range from 120-250 on a regular basis, but they both could actually end up with the same A1C. That wide variability is being studied in more detail because many health experts wonder if variability in your daily blood sugars matter just as much, or more, than what your estimated average blood sugar is. Regardless, studies have shown us that if your A1c is 7% or lower, youre risk for certain complications related to diabetes is lower.
|A1C Test Result %|
If you didnt have a chart to show the conversion from A1c to estimated average glucose , you could use the following calculation: 28.7 x HbA1c 46.7 = eAG . But, my guess is that you wont commit that calculation to memory, so the next time you are wondering what a 7.2% A1C equates to, you can easily find many conversion charts on the internet.
How Often Is A1c Tested
To keep A1C levels in check, patients should have the test repeated regularly. If the A1C is less than 5.7, indicating you dont have diabetes, you should have it checked every three years, according to Robert Williams, MD, a family doctor and geriatrician in Lakewood, Colorado, and a medical advisor for eMediHealth. If it is between 5.7 and 6.4, indicating you are at risk of developing diabetes, you should have it rechecked every one to two years. If you have a confirmed diabetes diagnosis, and your blood sugar is well-controlled, you should have an A1C test every six months. If you already have diabetes and your medications change, or your blood sugar is not well-controlled, you should have an A1C test every three months.
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Why Should A Person Get The A1c Test
Testing can help health care professionals
- find prediabetes and counsel you about lifestyle changes to help you delay or prevent type 2 diabetes
- find type 2 diabetes
- work with you to monitor the disease and help make treatment decisions to prevent complications
If you have risk factors for prediabetes or diabetes, talk with your doctor about whether you should be tested.
When Is An A1c Test Needed
If you have diabetes, you should have an A1c test two to four times a year to see how youre managing it. Your healthcare team will recommend exactly how often you should get tested.
If you havent gotten diagnosed with diabetes, a healthcare provider may order an A1c test if you have symptoms of the condition. These symptoms include:
- Blurry vision.
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Who Should Get An A1c Test And When
Testing for diabetes or prediabetes:Get a baseline A1C test if youre an adult over age 45or if youre under 45, are overweight, and have one or more risk factors for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes:
- If your result is normal but youre over 45, have risk factors, or have ever had gestational diabetes, repeat the A1C test every 3 years.
- If your result shows you have prediabetes, talk to your doctor about taking steps now to improve your health and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Repeat the A1C test as often as your doctor recommends, usually every 1 to 2 years.
- If you dont have symptoms but your result shows you have prediabetes or diabetes, get a second test on a different day to confirm the result.
- If your test shows you have diabetes, ask your doctor to refer you to diabetes self-management education and support services so you can have the best start in managing your diabetes.
Managing diabetes:If you have diabetes, get an A1C test at least twice a year, more often if your medicine changes or if you have other health conditions. Talk to your doctor about how often is right for you.
Can I Take The Test At Home
The FDA has approved or cleared a number of over-the-counter hemoglobin A1c test kits that you can use at home. At-home versions of the hemoglobin A1c test may not be as accurate as tests that are performed in a lab. But they offer a convenient alternative to testing in a medical office which may be useful for some patients.
Your doctor can advise you whether taking the test at home would be right for you and may be able to recommend a specific brand.
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What Is Fasting Blood Glucose
We can measure glucose levels with a fasting blood glucose test. An FBG measures blood glucose concentration at a single point in time and provides a glimpse into your bodys efficiency at regulating your blood sugar. An FBG test requires fasting for at least 8 to 12 hours beforehand for an accurate depiction. Routine blood tests ordered by your physician, such as basic and comprehensive metabolic panels, include an FBG test.
Fasting Blood Glucose Ranges
- Normal range: 65-99 mg/dL
- Prediabetes: 100-125 mg/dL
- Diabetes: 126mg/dL or higher on two separate tests
Healthy glucose levels are associated with better weight control, increased energy, and improved mood and cognition. High FBG after eight to 12 hours without eating indicates an issue with glucose regulation, and should be discussed with a physician.
How To Lower Hba1c And Blood Glucose Levels
Adopt a more vegetarian diet, including beans & nuts
Vegetarian diets are inversely associated with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In a meta analysis comparing nine different experiments, researchers found that vegetarian diets consistently improved fasting blood glucose and HbA1c. Why? They generally emphasize a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts, and lower levels of saturated and trans fat. Plus, beans often replace meat in these diets by acting as a protein source. Thanks to their high fiber content and low glycemic index , beans stabilize blood glucose and insulin levels. So individuals with type 2 diabetes may notice significantly lower A1c levels if they increase their bean intake to at least one cup per day. Similar to beans, nuts are low glycemic and help regulate blood sugar levels. In a recent experiment, people who replaced some of their food with a serving of nuts saw improved glycemic control and HbA1c levels. On a grander scale, eating nuts has an inverse association with type 2 diabetesthat is, people who include nuts in their daily lives tend to have a lower risk of developing diabetes.
Exercise is a crucial component in managing glucose and insulin levels. It directly improves blood glucose control, increases insulin sensitivity, and helps maintain a healthy weight. Exercise is a very effective tool in preventing the development of type 2 diabetes.
Prep more meals at home
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How Nuffield Health Can Help You Get A Blood Test
At Nuffield Health we offer a wide range of blood tests including ones that require fasting.
Our range of in-depth Health Assessments include a variety of common blood tests that will give you a clear picture of your overall health and fitness.
If youre looking for a specific blood test or have been referred for a test by a medical professional, you can easily book and purchase blood tests online through our pathology direct service.
Contact us about blood tests at Nuffield Health
Fill in the form below and well get back to you within one working day. If its urgent, you can call us on 0300 123 6200.
Can You Drink Coffee If Youre Fasting Before A Blood Test
Even if you drink it black, coffee can interfere with blood test results. Thats because it contains caffeine and soluble plant matter, which might skew your test results.
Coffee is also a diuretic, which means that it will increase how much you pee. This can have a dehydrating effect. The less hydrated you are, the harder it can be for the nurse or other medical professional whos doing your blood test to find a vein. This can make the blood test harder or more stressful for you.
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How Often Do You Need The Test
Your doctor probably will have you take the A1c test as soon as youâre diagnosed with diabetes. Youâll also have the test if your doctor thinks you may get diabetes. The test will set a baseline level so you can see how well youâre controlling your blood sugar.
How often youâll need the test after that depends on several things, like:
- The type of diabetes you have
- Your blood sugar control
- Your treatment plan
Youâll probably get tested once a year if you have prediabetes, which means you have a strong chance of developing diabetes.
You may get tested twice each year if you have type 2 diabetes, dont use insulin, and your blood sugar level is usually in your target range.
You could get it three or four times each year if you have type 1 diabetes.
Youâll likely get four tests per year if you have type 2 diabetes and use insulin, or have trouble keeping your blood sugar level in your target range.
You may also need the test more often if your diabetes plan changes or you start a new medicine.
What Is The A1c Test
The A1C test is a blood test that provides information about your average levels of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, over the past 3 months. The A1C test can be used to diagnose type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.1 The A1C test is also the primary test used for diabetes management.
The A1C test is sometimes called the hemoglobin A1C, HbA1c, glycated hemoglobin, or glycohemoglobin test. Hemoglobin is the part of a red blood cell that carries oxygen to the cells. Glucose attaches to or binds with hemoglobin in your blood cells, and the A1C test is based on this attachment of glucose to hemoglobin.
The higher the glucose level in your bloodstream, the more glucose will attach to the hemoglobin. The A1C test measures the amount of hemoglobin with attached glucose and reflects your average blood glucose levels over the past 3 months.
The A1C test result is reported as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the higher your blood glucose levels have been. A normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent.
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How Precise Is The A1c Test
When repeated, the A1C test result can be slightly higher or lower than the first measurement. This means, for example, an A1C reported as 6.8 percent on one test could be reported in a range from 6.4 to 7.2 percent on a repeat test from the same blood sample.3 In the past, this range was larger but new, stricter quality-control standards mean more precise A1C test results.
Health care professionals can visit www.ngsp.org to find information about the precision of the A1C test used by their lab.
What Does The Test Result Mean
In screening and diagnosis, some results that may be seen include:
- A person who does not have diabetes: A1c result less than 5.7%
- Diabetes: A1c level is 6.5% or higher
- Increased risk of developing diabetes in the future : A1c of 5.7% to 6.4%
For monitoring glucose control, A1c is currently reported as a percentage and, for most people with diabetes, it is recommended that they aim to keep their hemoglobin A1c below 7%. The closer they can keep their A1c to the American Diabetes Association ‘s therapeutic goal of less than 7% without experiencing excessive low blood glucose , the better their diabetes is in control. As the A1c increases, so does the risk of complications.
However, if you have type 2 diabetes, you may select an A1c goal in consultation with your healthcare practitioner. The goal may depend on several factors, such as length of time since diagnosis, the presence of other diseases as well as diabetes complications , risk of complications from hypoglycemia, limited life expectancy, and whether or not the person has a support system and healthcare resources readily available.
For example, a person with heart disease who has lived with type 2 diabetes for many years without diabetic complications may have a higher A1c target set by their healthcare practitioner, while someone who is otherwise healthy and just diagnosed may have a lower target as long as low blood sugar is not a significant risk.
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How Quickly Can You Lower Your A1c
Because A1c is simply a measure of your average blood sugar over 2-3 months, it can decrease by any amount over that time period. If you, from one day to the next, decreased your daily average blood sugar from 300 mg/dl to 120 mg/dl , your A1c would decrease from 12% to 6% in around two months.
However, it may not be a good idea to lower your A1c so quickly, as I will explain below.
Medical Tests Every Man Needs
Have a special guy in your life? Make sure hes up to date on these important health screenings.
Admit it, guys: You dont even like going to the doctor when theres something wrong, let alone for preventative check-ups. But being proactive about your healthby getting recommended screenings for serious conditions and diseasescould mean youll spend less time at the doctors office down the road.
Depending on age, family history, and lifestyle factors, people need different tests at different times in their lives. Heres a good overview for all men to keep in mind.
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What Does A1c Stand For
Hemoglobin A1C , commonly called A1C, stands for glycosylated hemoglobin. An A1C test provides information on how well-controlled a persons diabetes is. It does this by measuring the percentage of red blood cell hemoglobin protein that has sugar stuck to it and provides a three-month average of your blood glucose levels, explains , MD, a board-certified endocrinologist at the Center for Endocrinology at Mercy Medical in Baltimore. The higher blood sugar levels are, the more glucose attaches to hemoglobin. The results provide patients and their healthcare providers with information on how well their treatment, diet, and medication is working and whether adjustments are necessary.
There are a few reasons a doctor might suggest an A1C test:
- To make a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes
- To test for prediabetes
- To monitor blood sugar levels
- To determine if treatment adjustments are needed
The A1C blood test is not for diagnosing Type 1 diabetes, gestational diabetes, or cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases .
You Have Kidney Disease Or Related Disorders
Those who suffer from kidney disease can find it more challenging to rely on the efficiency of A1C tests. They often see high A1C results, according to a report by DaVita Inc., that may not always be accurate. This is because kidney disease can cause complications like anemia and malnutrition. This, in turn, affects the results of an A1C test. With both diabetes and kidney disease, it can be more challenging to get accurate results.
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What Is A Good A1c Level
Levels between 5.7 and 6.4 are considered prediabetes. For most people with diabetes, the general A1C goal is to have a level between 6.0 and 6.9. While it might sound like the ideal A1C target is under 6.0, for those with diabetes, this level can indicate low blood sugar levels, which can be just as dangerous as high blood sugar levels. If A1C results fall between 7.0 and 8.9, a doctor might suggest lifestyle changes or medications to help lower the levels to what is considered controlled. However, for some people, these levels might be appropriate, such as:
- Those with a limited life expectancy
- People with long-standing diabetes who have trouble reaching a lower goal
- Those with severe hypoglycemia or the inability to sense hypoglycemia
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Can My Race Or Ethnicity Affect My A1c Results
There are different kinds of hemoglobin. The most common is hemoglobin A. But some races and ethnicities have different types of hemoglobin, called hemoglobin variants.
A hemoglobin variant doesnt increase the risk for diabetes, but it can affect A1c results. Labs have different ways to do A1c tests on blood with a hemoglobin variant.
The most common variants are the:
- Hemoglobin C trait thats most commonly found in Black people, people of West African descent and people from South and Central America, the Caribbean Islands and Europe.
- Hemoglobin D trait thats most commonly found in people who live in China, India, Turkey, Brazil and some parts of Europe.
- Hemoglobin E trait thats most commonly found in Asian Americans, especially those of Southeast Asian descent.
- Hemoglobin S trait thats most commonly found in Black people and Latino Americans.
Talk to your healthcare provider about how often you should get an A1c test. Also discuss whether you might have a hemoglobin variant that could affect the results.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/30/2021.
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