What is an A1C Test?
An A1C test — also known as the hemoglobin A1C or HbA1c test — is a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels. Results help reflect your average blood sugar levels for the past two to three months. The A1C test measures what percentage of hemoglobin proteins in your blood are coated with sugar (glycated) to determine if you have Type 1, 2 or pre-diabetes. The higher your A1C level is, the higher your risk of diabetes complications, due to poor blood sugar control.
Why A1C test needed?
Based on A1C test results, your provider can determine if you have pre-diabetes or if you have a higher risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease. The result of an initial A1C test helps to establish a baseline A1C level and is then repeated regularly to monitor your diabetes treatment plan.
How often is an A1C test needed?
It depends on the type of diabetes, how well you're following your treatment plan and your primary care provider’s clinical assessment.
The A1C test may be recommended…
- Once a year if you have prediabetes
- Twice a year if you don't use insulin or if your blood sugar levels are consistently within your treatment plan target range
- Four times a year if taking insulin or if you have trouble keeping your blood sugar levels within your treatment plan target range
More-routine A1C tests could be required your provider changes your treatment plan, or if you begin taking a new diabetes medication.
How do I take control?
You can help prevent complications from diabetes by working to control your blood sugar. Damage from diabetes can take years, so it is important to make lasting lifestyle changes, including:
- Education – Talk with your provider to determine the best diabetes resources for you. The more you know, the more you can make educated & healthy choices.
- Movement – Discuss regular exercise options with your provider. Routine exercised may help lower your blood sugar without medicine, help increase blood flow, and may help burn extra calories and fat.
- Balanced Diet – A balanced diet is integral to controlling your blood sugar levels. Be sure to discuss your nutrition plan, including fats, proteins & carbs you should get each day.
- Monitor your Sugar – A routine schedule to check your blood sugar levels to know what’s normal and if on track with your treatment plan goals.