How managing your A1c can help you reach healthy blood sugars

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When it comes to healthy blood sugar control, the A1C is a vital measuring tool. A1c is the short name for glycosylated hemoglobin. Now, this may sound like a mouthful. It is abbreviated to the A1C to make it easier to understand.

The A1c calculated as a percentage point. Blood glucose attaches to the proteins in the red blood cells. The A1C measures the amount of sugars attached to the red blood cells. This is a normal process that occurs in both people with diabetes as well as non-diabetics.

The average red blood cell last about 120 days, the A1c can measure the blood sugar levels over the prior 6- 8 weeks.

When it comes to managing Type 2 diabetes, the A1c can is used in two ways:

To diagnose Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes:

  • An A1c over 6.5% on at least two separate occasions confirms a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • An A1c between 5.7- 6.4% on at least two different times is indicative of pre-diabetes
  • An A1c of less than 5.7% is normal

The A1c can also be used to measure blood sugar control:

The A1c is commonly used to monitor overall blood sugar control. It is important to know what your A1c is. I cannot tell you how many times I have been taken aback by patients who have no idea what their A1c is.

 If you are on a mission to THRIVE despite being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you need to not only knowing what your A1c but also getting it under control.

What should be the target A1c in someone living with Type 2 diabetes?

About 20 years ago, there was a landmark study on people with Type 1 diabetes.  The research found that when diabetes was detected early and blood sugars well controlled, this helped to reduce the complications associated with type 2 diabetes.

To learn more about the complications associated with type 2 diabetes, and other information, you can download this free e-book, which is the first three chapters of my award-winning book.  

According to recommendations by the American Diabetes Association, the target goal for A1c should be less than 7.0%. An A1C of less than 7% correlates with sugars on average less than 140 mg/dl.

For every percentage above 7%, the blood sugars go up about 30 mg/dL. The higher the A1c, the higher the blood sugars. The higher the blood sugars, the greater the risk of complications.

So the goal for most people is to keep the A1c less than 7%

Now there may be some caveats to these recommendations-

For instance, if you over 80 years of age, then tighter blood sugar control may not be a reasonable goal. So have a discussion with your healthcare provider about what a reasonable goal should be at that point. Perhaps an A1c between 7-8% may be a more reasonable goal.

What are some factors that may affect getting the A1c to goal?

 For some suggestions on how to achieve healthy blood sugars, I recently put together a mini-course series which is a collation of prior blog articles on just that topic. To learn more click here.  

In summary, the A1c is a percentage measure of the amount of blood glucose that is attached to the red blood cells. The less the blood glucose attached to the red blood cells, the better the A1c. So we need to focus on what we need to do to achieve healthy blood sugars.