Changes to the A1C Test and What They Mean

Individuals with diabetes need to know how to measure their condition. The best method is to use the A1C hemoglobin test. This test is also called the HbA1c glycohemoglobin test and glycosylated hemoglobin test. Screening for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is done using the A1C hemoglobin test.

The Basics

There are many benefits of this test over home glucose monitoring. The A1C test will show the average blood sugar levels for an individual for the past several months. While home glucose monitoring devices can provide individual readings, the A1C test can give an overall portrait of blood-glucose management. The main reason to test blood sugar levels is to see the levels of hemoglobin that are glycated or coated in sugar. Testing to measure blood sugar is done to indicate the average amount of glucose in the blood. A1C testing is done in addition to regular blood-glucose monitoring at home using products such as Prodigy test strips and Accuchek lancets.


Test Results

A person who does not have diabetes will typically have an A1C level of about 5 percent. The level for a person with diabetes will vary. A target level of 6.5 percent is recommended by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE). Levels that are less or equal to 7 percent are recommended by the American Diabetes Association or ADA. Complications from diabetes are often a possibility when a person is not properly controlling their blood sugar.


The A1C goals for people should be individualized. This means average levels can vary from person to person. A doctor can determine what a person’s ideal A1C targets need to be. One thing to keep in mind is one percentage point drop in A1C test results will reduce the chance of kidney, nerve, and eye disease by 40 percent.

A standard A1C test can be divided into different segments. Levels between 4 percent and 5 percent are normal and indicate a minimal risk of diabetes. If the level is between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent, then a person is at a higher risk of having diabetes. A person with a level of 6.5 percent or more has diabetes and should get a second opinion as an abnormal result is possible. Certain vitamin supplements as well as conditions such as anemia can affect A1C test results.


Testing Frequency 

The A1c test should be performed every three months for anyone who has diabetes. Testing needs to be done to make sure blood sugar levels do not exceed 7 percent. People with diabetes who can keep their blood sugar levels steady may be tested every six months. This will depend on their doctor’s advice and their medical history. Anyone who has recently changed treatment options is likely to be tested more often. Generally, doctors like to see the day-to-day management of blood-glucose levels recorded in a diabetic log book, while the patient has been using diabetic accessories such as Accuchek lancets or Prodigy test strips to find their blood-glucose levels several times per day.


A1C and eAG 

The result of the A1C test may be reported as average glucose of eAG. However, A1C results which are reported as eAG have the same meaning as they correlate with each other. One thing to know about the A1C test is the results are always a percentage. The eAg result is reported as milligrams per deciliter or milligrams per deciliter, such as 150 ml/dl. This is common for most glucose meters. A person who has an A1C level of 6 percent will convert to an eAG result of 126. One thing to keep in mind about testing is the results can vary from lab to lab.


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