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A1C is gauge showing level of diabetes control


Many tests and statistics become important when one is trying to control blood sugar levels.  The A1C test (or hemoglobin A1c test) is recommended every 3 to 6 months. It tells the doctor and patient the average blood sugar level over the last 2-3 months. It is not the same as the finger stick blood test done at home. Frequent higher blood sugar levels will lead to a higher A1C.

The American Diabetes Association explains that the A1C test gives an idea of how well your diabetes treatment plan is working. In some ways, the A1C test is like a baseball player’s season batting average, it tells you about a person’s overall success. Neither a single day’s blood test results nor a single game’s batting record gives the same big picture.

A normal A1C level for a person without diabetes is 4 o 5.9. Diabetes experts say that a person with diabetes should have an A1C level below 7%, or as low as possible without risking dangerously low blood sugars.

Hemoglobin is a protein that links up with sugars found inside red blood cells. Its job is to carry oxygen from the lungs to all the cells of the body. Glucose enters your red blood cells and links up (or glycates) with molecules of hemoglobin. The more glucose in your blood, the more hemoglobin gets glycated. By measuring the percentage of A1C in the blood, you get an overview of your average blood glucose control for the past few months.


Why is the A1C test important?

  • Clinical studies show that A1C levels close to normal, lower the risk for complications and lower the cost of care in the long run
  • A decrease of just one percentage point in A1C level can lower the risk for eye disease, kidney disease, nerve damage and heart disease by an average of over 50 percent
  • The doctor uses the A1C level as a guide to adjust medications
  • A high A1C means that a change must take place to reduce the risk for serious damage that may result from diabetes. The needed changes may be in lifestyle (diet, physical activity, weight, etc.), or in medications or both

Just this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave clearance to a new test to gauge A1C. Drug company Abbott announced that its new ARCHITECT Clinical Chemistry Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test – which can aid physicians in diagnosing and monitoring diabetes and identifying people at risk for the disease – has received 510(k) clearance from (FDA).

Abbott adds that more than 25 million Americans are living with diabetes and several million remain undiagnosed. They said they feel that people with diabetes who can understand and manage their condition can prevent or delay health problems, which may lead to longer and healthier lives.

Diabetes Management & Supplies offers accredited diabetes education services that can make managing diabetes and other conditions an easier task. For more information on care management needs or to enroll in group or individual sessions, call our Education Department at 1-888-738-7929 or email an educator at

For more on the new Abbott test, see the company release.

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