What's A "normal" A1c? When Is It Misleading?
By Adithi Gandhi and Jeemin Kwon Why we use A1c, what values are recommended, and what impacts A1c – everything from anemia to vitamins Want more information just like this? Hemoglobin A1c (“HbA1c” or just “A1c”) is the standard for measuring blood sugar management in people with diabetes. A1c reflects average blood sugars over 2 to 3 months, and through studies like DCCT and UKPDS, higher A1c levels have been shown to be associated with the risk of certain diabetes complications (eye, kidney, and nerve disease). For every 1% decrease in A1c, there is significant pretection against those complications. However, as an average over a period of months, A1c cannot capture critical information such as time spent in a target range (70-180 mg/dl) and hypoglycemia (less than 70 mg/dl). This article describes why A1c is used in the first place, as well as factors that can lead to misleadingly high or low values. In a follow-up piece, we will discuss time-in-range, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, blood sugar variability, and how to measure and interpret them. Click to jump down to a section: What tools are available if an A1c test is not accurate or sufficient? What is A1c and why is it used? A1c estimates a person’s average blood sugar levels over a 2 to 3-month span. It is the best measure we have of how well blood glucose is controlled and an indicator of diabetes management. Though A1c doesn’t provide day-to-day information, keeping A1c low has been proven to lower the risk of “microvascular” complications like kidney disease (nephropathy), vision loss (retinopathy), and nerve damage (neuropathy). The relationship between A1c and “macrovascular” complications like heart disease is harder to show in clinical trials, but having high blood sugar is a major ris Continue reading >>
Hemoglobin A1c (hba1c) Test For Diabetes
The hemoglobin A1c test tells you your average level of blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. It's also called HbA1c, glycated hemoglobin test, and glycohemoglobin. People who have diabetes need this test regularly to see if their levels are staying within range. It can tell if you need to adjust your diabetes medicines. The A1c test is also used to diagnose diabetes. Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells. It gives blood its red color, and it’s job is to carry oxygen throughout your body. The sugar in your blood is called glucose. When glucose builds up in your blood, it binds to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells. The A1c test measures how much glucose is bound. Red blood cells live for about 3 months, so the test shows the average level of glucose in your blood for the past 3 months. If your glucose levels have been high over recent weeks, your hemoglobin A1c test will be higher. For people without diabetes, the normal range for the hemoglobin A1c level is between 4% and 5.6%. Hemoglobin A1c levels between 5.7% and 6.4% mean you have a higher change of getting of diabetes. Levels of 6.5% or higher mean you have diabetes. The target A1c level for people with diabetes is usually less than 7%. The higher the hemoglobin A1c, the higher your risk of having complications related to diabetes. A combination of diet, exercise, and medication can bring your levels down. People with diabetes should have an A1c test every 3 months to make sure their blood sugar is in their target range. If your diabetes is under good control, you may be able to wait longer between the blood tests. But experts recommend checking at least two times a year. People with diseases affecting hemoglobin, such as anemia, may get misleading results with this test. Other things that can Continue reading >>
Print Overview The A1C test is a common blood test used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes and then to gauge how well you're managing your diabetes. The A1C test goes by many other names, including glycated hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin, hemoglobin A1C and HbA1c. The A1C test result reflects your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. Specifically, the A1C test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin — a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen — is coated with sugar (glycated). The higher your A1C level, the poorer your blood sugar control and the higher your risk of diabetes complications. Why it's done An international committee of experts from the American Diabetes Association, the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and the International Diabetes Federation, recommend that the A1C test be the primary test used to diagnose prediabetes, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. After a diabetes diagnosis, the A1C test is used to monitor your diabetes treatment plan. Since the A1C test measures your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months instead of your blood sugar level at a specific point in time, it is a better reflection of how well your diabetes treatment plan is working overall. Your doctor will likely use the A1C test when you're first diagnosed with diabetes. This also helps establish a baseline A1C level. The test may then need to be repeated while you're learning to control your blood sugar. Later, how often you need the A1C test depends on the type of diabetes you have, your treatment plan and how well you're managing your blood sugar. For example, the A1C test may be recommended: Once every year if you have prediabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes Twice a year if Continue reading >>
The A1c Test & Diabetes
What is the A1C test? The A1C test is a blood test that provides information about a person’s average levels of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, over the past 3 months. The A1C test is sometimes called the hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, or glycohemoglobin test. The A1C test is the primary test used for diabetes management and diabetes research. How does the A1C test work? The A1C test is based on the attachment of glucose to hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. In the body, red blood cells are constantly forming and dying, but typically they live for about 3 months. Thus, the A1C test reflects the average of a person’s blood glucose levels over the past 3 months. The A1C test result is reported as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the higher a person’s blood glucose levels have been. A normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent. Can the A1C test be used to diagnose type 2 diabetes and prediabetes? Yes. In 2009, an international expert committee recommended the A1C test as one of the tests available to help diagnose type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.1 Previously, only the traditional blood glucose tests were used to diagnose diabetes and prediabetes. Because the A1C test does not require fasting and blood can be drawn for the test at any time of day, experts are hoping its convenience will allow more people to get tested—thus, decreasing the number of people with undiagnosed diabetes. However, some medical organizations continue to recommend using blood glucose tests for diagnosis. Why should a person be tested for diabetes? Testing is especially important because early in the disease diabetes has no symptoms. Although no test is perfect, the A1C and blood glucose tests are the best tools available to diagnose diabetes—a serious and li Continue reading >>
Hemoglobin A1c Test (hba1c)
Hemoglobin A1c, often abbreviated HbA1c, is a form of hemoglobin (a blood pigment that carries oxygen) that is bound to glucose. The blood test for HbA1c level is routinely performed in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Blood HbA1c levels are reflective of how well diabetes is controlled. The normal range for level for hemoglobin A1c is less than 6%. HbA1c also is known as glycosylated, or glycated hemoglobin. HbA1c levels are reflective of blood glucose levels over the past six to eight weeks and do not reflect daily ups and downs of blood glucose. High HbA1c levels indicate poorer control of diabetes than levels in the normal range. HbA1c is typically measured to determine how well a type 1 or type 2 diabetes treatment plan (including medications, exercise, or dietary changes) is working. How Is Hemoglobin A1c Measured? The test for hemoglobin A1c depends on the chemical (electrical) charge on the molecule of HbA1c, which differs from the charges on the other components of hemoglobin. The molecule of HbA1c also differs in size from the other components. HbA1c may be separated by charge and size from the other hemoglobin A components in blood by a procedure called high pressure (or performance) liquid chromatography (HPLC). HPLC separates mixtures (for example, blood) into its various components by adding the mixtures to special liquids and passing them under pressure through columns filled with a material that separates the mixture into its different component molecules. HbA1c testing is done on a blood sample. Because HbA1c is not affected by short-term fluctuations in blood glucose concentrations, for example, due to meals, blood can be drawn for HbA1c testing without regard to when food was eaten. Fasting for the blood test is not necessary. What Are Continue reading >>
Why Hemoglobin A1c Is Not A Reliable Marker
i was recently tested for Hemoglobin A1c because i presented to an endocrinologist with extremely low blood glucose on lab test and some scary symptoms, not the ordinary hypoglycemia symptoms. My A1c was 4.7 which registered as low (L) on the lab print out–it was only slightly low. Does a low score on this suggest a possibility of short-lived RBCs? Does it have any relationship with extremely low blood glucose? my result at the lab, fasting, was 32mg/dL. Not long after that i got a home glucometer and i get the same kind of results on that as the lab got, in the 20s and 30s first thing in the morning, every day. did not know i had hypoglycemia until i had that lab test, though i had had one episode where i woke up with ataxia, i fell while walking to the bathroom first thing in the morning, i got up and immediately fell again. I soon found that i had very impaired coordination. i did not know why and i was very worried. Eventually i wanted to have breakfast but had great difficulty holding the measuring cup under the faucet, to get some water to heat, to make instant oatmeal, i lacked the coordination to get the water into the cup. I persisted and did make the instant oatmeal (pour hot water onto flakes and it’s done), and i got my lap top and was eating the oatmeal and i suddenly was aware that the symptoms were going away. Previously i had been unable to type. While eating the small amount of oatmeal, i realized i could type. That was about a month before the lab test. Since it only happened that once, i put it out of my mind. About 5 days after the lab test, i had the second episode, worse than the first, i woke falling out of bed to the floor, couldn’t use my arm to break the fall, i didn’t have the coordination. i sat on the floor, i could not get up and wa Continue reading >>
What Is A Good Score On The A1c Diabetes Test?
Normal A1C level can range from 4.5 to 6 percent. Someone who's had uncontrolled diabetes for a long time can have an A1C level above 9 percent. A1C test is used to diagnose diabetes, an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate dates indicates diabetes. A result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes, which is high risk of developing diabetes. For most people who have previously diagnosed diabetes, an A1C level of 7 percent or less is a common treatment target. Higher targets may be chosen in some individuals. If your A1C level is above your target, your doctor may recommend a change in your diabetes treatment plan. Remember, the higher your A1C level, the higher your risk of diabetes complications. A good score on the A1C test depends on whether you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. For those who do not have diabetes, a score of less than 5.7% is considered normal, while 5.7% to 6.4% indicates prediabetes and 6.5% or higher means you have diabetes. If you already have diabetes, a score of 7% or lower is desired. You and your doctor can decide what score is best for you. The A1C diabetes test is a way to get an average of how well your blood sugar has been controlled for the past three months. The standard A1C goal for most people with diabetes is less than 7%. However, the goal may be individualized or may be different for some people, especially older adults, people with heart disease or those who are prone to frequent low blood glucose. It's a good idea to find out what your A1C goal should be from your healthcare provider and then use that as a benchmark for your A1C results. No one quite agrees on where your A1C score should be, but we all agree on where it shouldn’t be. The scale does not look anything like the BGL numbers you are used Continue reading >>
Healthy A1c Goal
Ads by Google Don't think as unattainable by staring up the steps; you must step up the stairs to achieve. Fit non-diabetic person’s A1C percentage is always within 4.2 to 4.6%. These numbers are only from individuals who is fit, non-obese, active, and on a healthy diet. The A1C result depends upon how well you are maintaining your blood-glucose level. If you are maintaining your blood sugar at an optimal range 70-85mg/dl (3.9-4.7mmol/l) at most of the time, then your A1C be in the normal range 4.2-4.6%. A1C goal advised by American Diabetes Association (ADA) A1C goal of 6.5% or less is a more stringent goal. This A1C target is for people who does not experience many hypoglycemia episodes. This may be for individuals who have recently diagnosed with diabetes. A1C goal of 7% is reasonable. This A1C target is for many adults with diabetes who are not pregnant. A1C goal of 7.5% is for children with diabetes (0 to 18 years old). In children, younger than 6 years may be unable to recognize hypoglycemia symptoms. A1C goal of 8% or less is considered a less stringent goal. This A1C target may be for people with severe hypoglycemia experience. This may be for individuals who have many years of diabetes and who have low life expectancy. A1C goal advised by Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) A1C goal of 6.5% or less is for type 2 diabetics to lower nephropathy and retinopathy risk further. They must balance against hypoglycemia risk. A1C goal of 7.1-8.5% is for those who has longstanding diabetes with a history of recurrent severe hypoglycemia. And for those who has limited life expectancy. This target is for those who is hard to achieve an A1C ≤7%. That too after effective doses of multiple anti-hyperglycemic agents, including intensified basal-bolus insulin therapy. A1C go Continue reading >>
High Hemoglobin A1c Levels Within The Non-diabetic Range Are Associated With The Risk Of All Cancers.
Abstract Previous studies have reported associations between diabetes and cancer risk. However, specific association of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels with cancer risk remains inconclusive. We followed 29,629 individuals (11,336 men; 18,293 women) aged 46-80 years who participated in the Japan Public Health Center-based prospective study who had HbA1c measurements available and were cancer-free at baseline. Cancer incidence was assessed by systemic surveys. We estimated hazard ratios (HRs) for cancer risk with adjustment for age sex, geographic area, body mass index, smoking status, physical activity, alcohol, coffee, vegetable and total energy consumption, and history of cardiovascular disease. After a median follow-up of 8.5 years, 1,955 individuals had developed cancer. Higher HbA1c levels within both the non-diabetic and diabetic ranges in individuals without known diabetes were associated with overall cancer risk. Compared with individuals without known diabetes and HbA1c levels of 5.0-5.4%, the HRs for all cancers were 1.27 (95% confidence interval, 1.07-1.52); 1.01 (0.90-1.14); 1.28 (1.09-1.49); and 1.43 (1.14-1.80) for individuals without known diabetes and HbA1c levels <5.0%, 5.5-5.9%, 6.0-6.4%, and ≥6.5%, respectively, and 1.23 (1.02-1.47) for individuals with known diabetes. The lowest HbA1c group had the highest risk of liver cancer, and HbA1c levels were linearly associated with the risk of all cancers after excluding liver cancer (P for linear trend, 0.004). In conclusion, our findings corroborate the notion that glycemic control in individuals with high HbA1c levels may be important not only to prevent diabetes but also to prevent cancer. Continue reading >>
Translating “nondiabetic” A1c Levels To Clinical Practice
It is well recognized that there is a significant delay from the time clinical research findings are first reported and when the results become an integral part of clinical care. With the understanding that the prevalence and incidence of diabetes is increasing worldwide, and that the resulting complications are a major contributor to morbidity and mortality, the need for more rapid clinical translation of research findings for diabetes could not be greater. Specifically, a large amount of clinical research data has been reported in the recent past that is of great interest to the provider caring for individuals with diabetes. Much of the emphasis for research has been devoted to understanding the contribution of hyperglycemia and its treatment on macrovascular disease. For example, within the last decade, we have not only recognized the pivotal role that chronic hyperglycemia, as assessed with A1C levels, contributes to the development of microvascular complications, but we have recognized the importance of glycemia in contributing to cardiovascular disease (CVD) (1,2). Observations from large-scale prospective trials over the last couple of years have reported that in high-risk subjects, intensive therapy to lower A1C levels below suggested targets may not be beneficial or may increase mortality (3–5). However, as observed from these studies, we also learned that certain subsets of patients with type 2 diabetes may actually benefit from intensive glycemic control (3). The most recent analysis, reported in May 2010, has now suggested that mortality may actually be greater for those who maintain a higher A1C level despite attempts at intensive glycemic management (6). Interestingly, the excess mortality in the group randomized to intensive glycemic management was only Continue reading >>
What Are The Normal A1c Levels For Children?
The A1c blood test is one of the laboratory tests used to diagnose diabetes and an important measure of average blood sugar levels in someone who has diabetes. This test determines the amount of glucose or sugar that has attached to the blood's hemoglobin -- the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells -- during the 3-month lifespan of these cells. Target A1c levels have been established to help healthcare providers, as well as children with diabetes and their families, understand the blood sugar goals needed to reduce the risk of the long-term complications of diabetes. While there are some situations where the A1c result may not be reliable, as a rule this test is accurate and an essential part of a child's diabetes management program. Video of the Day Normal A1c Levels Diagnostic criteria for children is similar to the guidelines used in adults, and the A1c is one of the tests used to diagnose diabetes. A1c levels are reported as a percentage, and often the estimated average glucose (eAG) -- a number calculated from the A1c reading -- is also included with the results. Using the same units as a blood glucose meter, the eAG makes understanding the A1c result a bit easier by comparing the A1c to average blood sugar levels. A normal, nondiabetic A1c level is below 5.7 percent, which reflects an eAG below 117 mg/dL. The level used to diagnose diabetes is 6.5 percent and above, which reflects an eAG of 140 mg/dL or higher. A1c levels above normal but below the diabetes range fit into a prediabetes range. Target A1c Levels Along with its role in diagnosing diabetes, the A1c test is performed between 2 and 4 times per year to estimate average blood sugar levels over the previous 3 months. This test is used to monitor the effectiveness of diabetes treatment and to determin Continue reading >>
High Hemoglobin A1c Levels Within The Nondiabetic Range Are Associated With The Risk Of All Cancers
High hemoglobin A1c levels within the nondiabetic range are associated with the risk of all cancers Department of Diabetes Research, Diabetes Research Center, National Center for Global Health and Medicine, 1211 Toyama, ShinjukuKu, Tokyo, 1628655 Japan Department of Public Health, Tokyo Women's Medical University, 81 KawadaCho, ShinjukuKu, Tokyo, 1628666 Japan Department of Diabetes Research, Diabetes Research Center, National Center for Global Health and Medicine, 1211 Toyama, ShinjukuKu, Tokyo, 1628655 Japan Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Saitama Medical University, 38 Morohongo, Moroyama, Irumagun, Saitama, 3500495 Japan Correspondence to: Mitsuhiko Noda, Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Saitama Medical University, 38 Morohongo, Moroyama, Irumagun, Saitama 350-0495, Japan. Tel.: +81 49 276 1204, Fax: +81 49 294 9752, Email: Epidemiology and Prevention Group, Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening, National Cancer Center, 511 Tsukiji, ChuoKu, Tokyo, 1040045 Japan AXA Department of Health and Human Security, Graduate School of Medicine, the University of Tokyo, 731 Hongo, BunkyoKu, Tokyo, 1130033 Japan Department of Diabetes Research, Diabetes Research Center, National Center for Global Health and Medicine, 1211 Toyama, ShinjukuKu, Tokyo, 1628655 Japan Department of Public Health, Tokyo Women's Medical University, 81 KawadaCho, ShinjukuKu, Tokyo, 1628666 Japan Department of Diabetes Research, Diabetes Research Center, National Center for Global Health and Medicine, 1211 Toyama, ShinjukuKu, Tokyo, 1628655 Japan Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Saitama Medical University, 38 Morohongo, Moroyama, Irumagun, Saitama, 3500495 Japan Correspondence to: Mitsuhiko Noda, Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Saitama Medical Universit Continue reading >>
Ultimate Guide To The A1c Test: Everything You Need To Know
The A1C is a blood test that gives us an estimated average of what your blood sugar has been over the past 2-3 months. The A1c goes by several different names, such aswa Hemoglobin A1C, HbA1C, Hb1C, A1C, glycated hemoglobin, glycohemoglobin and estimated glucose average. What is Hemoglobin? Hemoglobin is a protein in your blood cells that carries oxygen. When sugar is in the blood, and it hangs around for a while, it starts to attach to the red blood cells. The A1C test is a measurement of how many red blood cells have sugar attached. So, if your A1C result is 7%, that means that 7% of your red blood cells have sugar attached to them. What are the Symptoms of a High A1C Test Level? Sometimes there are NO symptoms! That is probably one of the scariest things about diabetes, your sugar can be high for a while and you may not even know it. When your blood sugar goes high and stays high for longer periods of time you may notice the following: tired, low energy, particularly after meals feel very thirsty you may be peeing more than normal, waking a lot in the middle of the night to go dry, itchy skin unexplained weight loss crave sugar, hungrier than normal blurred vision, may feel like you need new glasses tingling in feet or hands cuts or sores take a long time to heal or don’t heal well at all frequent infections (urinary tract, yeast infections, etc.) When your blood sugar is high, this means the energy that you are giving your body isn’t getting into the cells. Think about a car that has a gas leak. You put gas in, but if the gas can’t get to the engine, the car will not go. When you eat, some of the food is broken down into sugar and goes into your bloodstream. If your body can’t get the sugar to the cells, then your body can’t “go.” Some of the sugar tha Continue reading >>
Hemoglobin A1c Test (hba1c, A1c, Hb1c)
Hemoglobin A1c definition and facts Hemoglobin A1c is a protein on the surface of red blood cells that sugar molecules stick to, usually for the life of the red blood cell (about three months). The higher the level of glucose in the blood, the higher the level of hemoglobin A1c is detectable on red blood cells. Hemoglobin A1c levels correlate with average levels of glucose in the blood over an approximately three-month time period. Normal ranges for hemoglobin A1c in people without diabetes is about 4% to 5.9%. People with diabetes with poor glucose control have hemoglobin A1c levels above 7%. Hemoglobin A1c levels are routinely used to determine blood sugar control over time in people with diabetes. Decreasing hemoglobin A1c levels by 1% may decrease the risk of microvascular complications (for example, diabetic eye, nerve, or kidney disease) by 10%. Hemoglobin A1c levels should be checked, according to the American Diabetic Association, every six months in individuals with stable blood sugar control, and every three months if the person is trying to establish stable blood sugar control. Hemoglobin A1c has many other names such as glycohemoglobin, glycated hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin, and HbA1c. To explain what hemoglobin A1c is, think in simple terms. Sugar sticks to things, and when it has been stuck to something for a long time it's harder to the get sugar (glucose) off. In the body, sugar sticks too, particularly to proteins. The red blood cells that circulate in the body live for about three months before they die. When sugar (glucose) sticks to these red blood cells by binding to hemoglobin A1c, it gives us an idea of how much glucose has been around in the blood for the preceding three months. Hemoglobin A1c is a minor component of hemoglobin to which gl Continue reading >>
Low Hemoglobin A1c In Nondiabetic Adults
Abstract OBJECTIVE To identify predictors of low hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) (<5.0%) and to investigate the association of low HbA1c with cause-specific mortality and risk of liver disease hospitalization. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Prospective cohort study of 13,288 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Logistic regression was used to identify cross-sectional correlates of low HbA1c, and Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate the association of low HbA1c with cause-specific mortality. RESULTS Compared with participants with HbA1c in the normal range (5.0 to <5.7%), participants with low HbA1c were younger, less likely to smoke, had lower BMI, lower white cell count and fibrinogen levels, and lower prevalence of hypercholesterolemia and history of coronary heart disease. However, this group was more likely to have anemia and had a higher mean corpuscular volume. In adjusted Cox models with HbA1c of 5.0 to <5.7% as the reference group, HbA1c <5.0% was associated with a significantly increased risk of all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.32, 95% CI: 1.13–1.55) and of cancer death (1.47, 95% CI: 1.16–1.84). We also noted nonsignificant trends toward increased risk of death from cardiovascular causes (1.27, 95% CI: 0.93–1.75) and respiratory causes (1.42, 95% CI: 0.78–2.56). There was a J-shaped association between HbA1c and risk of liver disease hospitalization. CONCLUSIONS No single cause of death appeared to drive the association between low HbA1c and total mortality. These results add to evidence that low HbA1c values may be a generalized marker of mortality risk in the general population. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is the standard measure of glucose control in persons with diagnosed diabetes mellitus and is now recommended f Continue reading >>