The AC1 test is the principal test that physicians use when diagnosing and treating diabetes. The A1C test differs from the common blood glucose test because it provides doctors with a steady, measured reading of blood glucose levels over a two to three month time period that does not fluctuate with food intake or other triggers like the readings given by day to day glucose testing often do.
A1C is a glucose-related chemical found in blood. By testing the percentage of A1C in someone’s blood, doctors can tell how well a patient has tolerated and processed glucose over the past few months. The results are the compared to the percentages on an A1C chart to gauge the progress of diabetes. A1C chart readings range from 5% to 12% and directly correlate to ‘number style’ readings given by blood glucose monitors. The percentages from the A1C chart are converted into numeric readings that home glucose monitors give, known as estimated average glucose numbers (eAG). Results in the lower percentage of the A1C chart are ideal, while results in the higher percentages of the A1C chart usually signify that the disease is not under control.
When is A1C testing done?
Diabetics can expect to have A1C testing done once every three or four months. Newly diagnosed patients or patients with uncontrolled blood sugar levels can expect more frequent testing. Additionally, someone who may be exhibiting symptoms of diabetes or those who are more prone to developing the disease may undergo A1C testing at the advice of their physician.
How is the A1C test performed?
The A1C test is done by using a simple blood draw with a needle or using the finger stick method. The blood is then tested for its level of A1C, which is the chemical that will adhere to glucose in the blood, making it easier to detect. For this reason, the more glucose that is in the blood, the higher the A1C levels will be – and vice versa.
What do the results from an A1C test mean?
As previously stated, results in the lower percentage of the A1C chart are ideal, while results in the higher percentages of the A1C chart usually signify that the disease is not under control. On the other hand, ‘normal’ for one person may be abnormal for someone else. A patient’s medical history and daily blood glucose levels are also important factors to be considered, along with the readings on the A1C chart. That said, the American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetes maintain an A1C chart reading of 7% or less – which is an eAG of 170 or less.
The A1C test is an invaluable tool in monitoring the progression of diabetes and creating the most effective plan for managing the disease. For more more information about the A1C test, the A1C chart or to schedule your own A1C test, contact your primary care physician.