glucose level chart

Getting your average blood glucose HbA1c level checked is vital information to see if you are at risk for prediabetes or type-2 diabetes. Also, it is a great tool to monitor the effectiveness of your current diabetes management plan.

Below you’ll find everything you need to find out where your numbers fall, including an intuitive and quick HbA1c chart, what it means, and what to do next.

What is an HbA1c Chart

The A1c test, also known as the hemoglobin A1c or HbA1c test, is a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. It’s one of the most commonly used tests to diagnose prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, and is also the main test to help you and your health care team develop your unique diabetes management plan. Higher A1c levels are linked to diabetes complications, like diabetic neuropathy, stroke, and blindness, so reaching and maintaining your individual A1c goal is very important.

What Does This A1c Test Actually Measure

When glucose (sugar) enters your bloodstream, it attaches to hemoglobin, a protein in your red blood cells. Everybody has some sugar attached to their hemoglobin, but people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes have higher levels of sugar glycated on their cells and a higher build-up of sugar in the bloodstream due to the fact that their bodies may not be utilizing the glucose for energy efficiently. Over a three-month time span, red blood cells are the most active and regenerate often, and glycation of cells happens most often during this time frame. This is why the A1c test is measured every three months or so.

Who Should Get an A1c Test

An A1c test is important for doctors to determine the presence of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. A baseline test is needed if you’re an adult over age 45, or, if you are under the age of 45, are overweight, and have risk factors for prediabetes and type 2, such as genetic history, gestational diabetes, or a sedentary lifestyle.

Best Time for HbA1c Test

  • If your result is normal but you’re over 45, have risk factors, or have ever had gestational diabetes, repeat the A1c test every 3 years.
  • If your result shows you have prediabetes, talk to your doctor about taking steps now to improve your health and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Repeat the A1c test as often as your doctor recommends, usually every 1 to 2 years.
  • If you don’t have symptoms but your result shows you have prediabetes or type 2, get a second test on a different day to confirm the result.
  • If your test shows you have type 2 diabetes, ask your doctor to refer you to a Certified Diabetes Educator or diabetes nutrition services so you can have the best start in managing your condition.  Next, get an A1c test every three months ideally (at least twice a year minimally). Talk to your doctor about when getting tested is appropriate for your unique needs.

hba1c chart

Results of A1c Test; What Does it Mean

An A1c test result is reported as a percentage of the hemoglobin proteins that are holding glucose. The higher the percentage, the higher your blood sugar levels have been over the past three months.

For diagnosis of diabetes, an A1c level of:

  • Less than 5.7% means you do not have diabetes.
  • 5.7-6.4% signals prediabetes-you are at a higher risk of developing full-blown type 2.
  • 6.5% or higher usually indicates type 2 diabetes.

This easy-to-use color-coded A1c conversion chart below shows the A1c percentages and the corresponding blood glucose control you have, and where you fall on the chart.  For example, an A1c of 9.0% equals “very poor” blood sugar control (orange code), whereas 5.7% shows “excellent” control (light green code). Studies have shown that color-coded diabetes charts are effective in achieving glycemic control among elderly, visually-impaired diabetics, and steps should be made to inculcate visually appealing management approaches in the case of elderly diabetic patients.

A1c Charts and A1c Tests Are More Tools in Your Toolbox

The A1c test is an important tool for managing diabetes.  It gives you a picture of your average blood glucose control for the past two to three months. The results give you and your diabetes care team a good 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, and where you fall on the chart. Neither a single day’s blood test result nor a single game’s batting record gives the same big picture!

The A1c test can help you manage your diabetes by confirming self-testing results or blood test results by the doctor, judging whether a treatment plan is working, and showing you how healthy nutritional and exercise choices can make a difference in diabetes control over time.  The A1c test, however, doesn’t replace regular blood sugar testing at home. Blood sugar goes up and down throughout the day and night, which isn’t captured by your A1c. Two people can have the same A1c, one with steady blood sugar levels and the other with high and low swings.

The goal for most people with type 2 diabetes is 7% or less. Your personal goal, however, will depend on many things such as your age and any other medical conditions you may have.  Work with your doctor to set your own individual A1c goal. Also, if you’re reaching your A1c goal but are still having symptoms of high or low blood sugars (dizziness, sweating, blurred vision, hunger, excessive thirst), check your blood sugar more often and at different times of day. Keep track of your readings in a log book and share the results with your doctor so you can make changes to your treatment plan if needed.

Your A1c is Your Own

You are unique and your diabetes care team is there to give you advice tailored to your own set of circumstances and needs, nutritionally, physically, and emotionally. If someone who hears your A1c says, “Your A1c level should be x, y, or z.”, your response can be: “I am working with my doctor on reaching my own safe diabetes target, and it has been customized for my condition.” Remember, also, that A1c targets often change over time, sometimes decreasing and sometimes increasing. It all depends on the person and circumstances. Don’t compare yourself to others!  Know your goals and be clear, persistent and honest in your approach to managing your diabetes. 

The combination of understanding A1c level charts, testing, and daily blood glucose testing is a powerful tour-de-force in obtaining vital information on your diabetes management plan.  Knowledge is power! Take control of your diabetes today by starting with an A1c test, map that to our A1c chart, know your numbers, and work with your diabetes care team to lower that number to ultimately reach your goal of health and wellness.

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