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All About Your A1C

Updated: Oct 25, 2020

If you have diabetes, your doctor will be checking your HbA1C, or hemoglobin A1C. This is typically just called your "A1C" for short. If you're a person with diabetes, your A1C should be checked 2-4 times per year. Generally, you'll need to go to a lab to get this test done, but it can also be done as a finger stick at the office if your doctor has the device to do so.

An A1C is an average of what your blood sugars have been in the past 2-3 months. I like to think of it as the overall picture of your blood sugar control. It doesn’t tell us if you’ve have really high or really low blood sugars on certain occasions, but gives us a pretty good idea what it has been in general.

People find A1C confusing because the number scale it uses is completely different than that which is used when you check your blood sugars at home. Luckily, A1C can be converted to an estimated average glucose, or eAG, for comparison purposes. Use the chart to the left to convert your most recent A1C to an eAG.

An A1C can be used to diagnose diabetes and prediabetes. It can also be used to monitor how well your blood sugar control has been. If your A1C has been creeping up, your provider will discuss with you why this is happening, and strategies regarding how to bring it back in line. They may encourage you to increase your exercise, make dietary changes, or start you on a new medication. Whichever is decided, the A1C can be checked again (generally in three months) to see if this change made an impact on your blood sugars or not.

So what should your A1C be? Generally speaking, a good target for most people with diabetes is an A1C of less than 7.0. It really is dependent on the person however. If someone is elderly or experiencing a lot of low blood sugars, their provider may decide to set their target a little higher, maybe 7.5 or 8.0. If someone is younger, a lower A1C, generally of 6.5, may be a better . goal. Remember that the lower your blood sugars are, the less likely you are to develop complications from diabetes. Striving for the lowest target A1C possible is generally ideal, provided that hypoglycemia is not an issue, and that the medications prescribed are not causing side effects.

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