Know your numbers
If you have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes – you are overweight or obese or have a family history of diabetes – the number you need to know is your A1C. Dr. Lee Montgomery of Louisiana Family Medicine explains why.
What is A1C?
“In the simplest terms, hemoglobin A1C is measured in people to provide an index of average blood glucose for the previous two to three months. Other names for the test are ‘glycated hemoglobin’ or ‘HbA1C.’”
Why do my A1C numbers matter?
“Studies show that keeping A1C numbers in the normal or near-normal range helps keep people from suffering the complications of diabetes, including blindness, kidney failure and leg amputation.”
So what should my numbers be?
“When checking for diabetes, your A1C should be 5.6 or less. If your A1C is 6.5 or higher, it probably means you have diabetes. But your doctor might repeat the test to be sure.
“If your A1C is between 5.7 and 6.4, you are at risk for getting diabetes. This is also called “pre-diabetes.
“You can help prevent full-blown diabetes by becoming more physically active, eating healthier and, if you are overweight, by dropping some pounds.
“If you already know you have diabetes, and you had an A1C test to see how well controlled your blood sugar is, an A1C of 7.0 or less is considered good.”
How often should I have an A1C test?
“That depends on whether you have diabetes and on what your last A1C test showed. In general, if you have diabetes, you should have your A1C test done every 3 to 6 months. If you do not have diabetes but are getting an A1C test to screen for diabetes, your doctor will typically test you every one to three years, depending on your risk factors.”
Do I still need to measure my blood sugar at home?
“If your doctor wants you to check your blood sugar at home, you should do it even if you have routine A1C tests. Home blood sugar tests tell you what your blood sugar is from moment to moment. That’s important information to have because it lets your doctor know if your diabetes treatments are keeping your blood sugar in a safe range.”