An A1C blood test is an essential tool for managing diabetes. But what exactly does it refer to? And how is it relevant to you? If these are some questions that you face, this article is perfect for you. Read on to understand more about A1C and what you need to know about this diagnostic test.
What is A1C?
A1C is short for glycated hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein in your red blood cells that carry oxygen. Glucose, or sugar, attaches to the hemoglobin and stays there for the life of the red blood cell (which is about three months). So, A1C gives us an indication of what your average blood sugar level has been over that three-month period.
The A1C test can be used to diagnose diabetes, as well as to monitor diabetes control. A normal A1C level is below 5.7%. If your A1C is 5.7% or higher on two separate occasions, you have diabetes.
If you already have diabetes, aim for an A1C level below 7%. A level of 7% or higher on two occasions indicates poor diabetes control. Good diabetes control is important because it can help prevent or delay the development of complications, such as heart disease, nerve damage, kidney disease, and eye problems.
How does A1C Compare to Your Glucose Meter?
Your A1C level is not the same as your blood sugar level at any given moment. A1C reflects your average blood sugar over time, whereas your glucose meter gives you a snapshot of your blood sugar at a specific point in time.
With that said, you can easily access home glucose meters. For instance, OKRA has an advanced, highly-reviewed, and convenient Bluetooth glucose meter available. With the help of their glucometer app and their Bluetooth diabetes meter, you can get more detailed information about your diabetes so you may live life to the fullest while being safe and healthy.
That said, there is a strong correlation between A1C and average blood sugar levels. In general, for every 1% increase in A1C, there is a corresponding increase of approximately 35-50 points in your average blood sugar level.
How Can You Use A1C to Improve Your Diabetes Management?
If your A1C is higher than it should be, it's a sign that your diabetes management needs improvement. This could involve making changes to your diet, increasing your physical activity, or adjusting your medication regimen.
Your A1C goal should be individualized based on factors such as age, health status, and life expectancy. However, in general, the lower your A1C, the better. Achieving an A1C below 7% has been shown to reduce the risk of complications from diabetes.
If you're not sure how to interpret your A1C results or make changes to your diabetes management plan, talk to your healthcare provider. They can help you develop a strategy for achieving better A1C levels and improving your overall health.
Tips to Manage Diabetes Effectively
If you have diabetes, it's important to take steps to manage it effectively. Here are a few tips to get started:
- Make healthy changes to your diet. A diet high in fiber and low in saturated fat and sugar can help keep your blood sugar levels under control.
- Get moving. A regular exercise program can help improve your blood sugar control and overall health.
- Take your medications as prescribed. If you're not sure how to take your medications or if you have any questions, be sure to ask your healthcare provider.
- Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly. A home glucose meter can help you keep track of your blood sugar levels and see how different activities affect them.
- Visit your healthcare provider regularly. Checkups are important for monitoring your diabetes and overall health.
By following these tips, you can help keep your A1C levels in check and reduce your risk of complications from diabetes.