The A1C test: measuring blood sugar control

What is the A1C test?

It's a blood test that tells how well your blood sugar has been controlled over the past 3 to 4 months. It measures the amount of sugar that attaches to protein in your red blood cells. The A1C test does not replace your daily testing, which can tell if your blood sugar is too low or too high at that moment. Both tests are needed to know if your treatment plan is working.

What should your A1C results be?

Your test result will be reported with a "percent" sign, such as 7% or 10%. The A1C goal for people with diabetes is 7% or less. If your test result is 7% or less, your treatment plan is working and it is likely your blood sugar is under good control. Some experts now recommend a goal of 6.5%.

A high A1C is one that is over 8%. If your test result is over 8%, you may need to work with your health care provider to change your treatment plan. The higher the test result, the greater the chance of developing complications, such as eye disease, kidney disease, or nerve damage. An A1C of 9.5% or higher is very risky.

Here are a few examples of how blood sugar levels and A1C results relate to each other:

  • If your average blood sugar is in the 280-380 range, then your A1C result would probably be somewhere between 11% and 14%. This means you should talk with your health care provider right away about changing your treatment plan.
  • If your average blood sugar is in the 180-250 range, then your A1C result would probably be somewhere between 8% and 10
    • Your treatment plan would still need some changes, so you should talk with your health care provider.
  • If your average blood sugar is in the 114-150 range, then your A1C result would probably be between 6% and 7%. This means your treatment plan is working well.

How often should you have this test?

Ask your health care provider how often you should be tested. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people using insulin be tested 4 times a year and all other people with diabetes be tested twice a year.

DISCLAIMER: The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.