How a Simple Test Can Help People With Diabetes Avoid Serious Complications

If you’re one of the millions with diabetes or you’re one of the millions more who are considered pre-diabetic, knowing and understanding your A1C is vital. A valuable screening tool, measuring your A1C isn’t just for people already diagnosed with diabetes. Millennium Physician Group Family Medicine Physician Andres Santayana explains what A1C is, who should be tested, and when.  

“When we screen for diabetes, we do a blood test called hemoglobin A1C,” he explains. “That gives us an idea if your blood sugar tends to run high on average, versus just what we see in the moment if we were to check your sugar.”  

Why A1C Levels Matter 

Higher A1C levels are linked to diabetes complications, and it’s a valuable screening tool to help you and your healthcare team manage your diabetes. Your doctor can tell you how often you need the A1C test, but if you have diabetes you’ll typically have it at least twice a year if you’re managing your condition. If you’re not meeting your goals or you change treatments, you may need to get an A1C test more often.  

“A lot of people really should have the screening more so than they do,” admits Dr. Santayana. “I think basically if you have a family history of diabetes, if you’re overweight or obese and have any other risk factors, including just the sedentary lifestyle, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) actually recommends just anyone who doesn’t get activity often and is overweight should already be screened for diabetes.”  

A1C vs. eAG 

According to the ADA, your doctor might report your A1C results as eAG. eAG is similar to what you see when monitoring your blood sugar at home with a meter. But since you’re more likely to check your blood sugar in the morning and before meals, your meter readings will likely be lower than your eAG. It’s important to note that A1C doesn’t replace regular blood sugar testing at home, but it is an important tool for managing your diabetes.  

“A normal A1C level is less than 5.7,” explains Dr. Santayana. “When people have prediabetes or they’re at risk of developing diabetes, they might be in between 5.7 and 6.4, anything, 6.5 and above on your A1C is considered diabetes.”  

*American Diabetes Association  

Your personal A1C goal will depend on several factors like your age and any other medical conditions. You should work with your doctor to set your own A1C goal. 

“The most important thing is that you’re taking control of your health,” assures Dr. Santayana. 

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