A1C Test

1 What is an A1C Test?

The A1C test is a test that is utilized to diagnose type 1 and 2 diabetes and afterwards, guage how well you are dealing with your diabetes.

The A1C test is known under many names, these include

  • the glycated hemoglobin,
  • glycosylated hemoglobin,
  • hemoglobin A1C and HbA1c.

The A1C test results show your average blood sugar level for as far back as two to three months. Precisely, the A1C test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin is coated with sugar or in other term the percentage that is glycated. The higher the A1C level, the pooreer your blood sugar control and thus, the higher the risk of diabetes complications.

2 Reasons for Procedure

Reasons for having an A1C procedure include prediabetes and type 1 and 2 diabetes testing, according to the:

  • American Association
  • European Association of the Stud of diabetes
  • and the International Diabetes Federation

Following a diabetes diagnosis, the A1C test will be used to monitor your diabetes treatment schedule. Since the A1C test measures your average blood sugar content for the past two to three months instead of the level at a specific point in time, it is a better reflection of the efficiency of the diabetes treatment plan.

The number of times you might need this test after the initial one will depend on the type of diabetes you have, your treatment plan and also how efficient you are dealing with your blood sugar.

A1C can be recommended in the following cases:

  • Once annually if you have prediabetes, which usually shows a high risk of developing diabetes.
  • Twice a year if you have type 2 diabetes, you don't use insulin, and your blood sugar content is consistent with your target range.
  • The test can also be recommended three to four times a year if you have type 1 diabetes and four times per year if you have type 2 diabetes, you use insulin to manage your diabetes and if you have trouble keeping your blood sugar level with your target in range.

3 Preparing for your Procedure

The A1C test is a fairly simple blood test.

To prepare for your A1C test make sure you are properly nourished before the procedure.

4 What to Expect

What to expect from A1C Test:

A member of your health care team takes a sample of your blood by inserting a needle into a vein in your arm, this can also be accomplished by pricking the tip of your finger with a small, poind lancet.

The blood sample is further sent to the lab for analysis. This process is very brief and you can return to your normal daily routine afterwards.

5 Procedure Results

For an individual who does not have diabetes, normal procedure results show A1C level below 5.7%

An individual with who has had uncontrolled diabetes for quite a long time may register an A1C level of above 8%.

When the A1C test is used to diagnose diabetes, an A1C level of 6.5% or higher on two different occasions shows that you have diabetes. For this reason, 5.7 and 6.4 % are considered prediabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes. For most individuals who have been previously diagnosed with diabetes, an A1C level of 7 % or less is a treatment goal. Higher targets of up to 8 % may  be appropriate for other individuals.

If your A1C is exceeding your target, your doctor may recommend a change in your diabetes treatment plan. Never forget that the higher your A1C level, the higher your risks of diabetes complications. It is very crucial to note that the effectiveness of an A1C test may be compromised in certain cases.

For example:

  • if you experience heavy or chronic bleeding,
  • if you have an iron deficiency,
  • if you have had a recent blood transfusion or have had other forms of hemolytic anaemia and if you have an uncommon form of hemoglobin (known as a hemoglobin variant), your  A1C test may falsely high or low.

It also very important to keep in mind that the normal range for A1C results may vary in different labs. If you make a consultation to a doctor or use a different lab, it is very important to consider this possible variation when interpreting your A1C test results.