Diabetes is serious, but it can be controlled through a combination of healthy diet, lifestyle, and medication. Checking your blood glucose levels regularly can help you take care of yourself and your diabetes, and avoid serious complications.
If diabetes is a part of your life, you've probably heard the term "A1C" a lot.
What is A1C? An A1C test is a blood test used to diagnose diabetes and to help in its management. A level of 6.5% or more can indicate diabetes. The test measures your average blood glucose over the past two to three months and shows how well your treatment plan is working overall. For a person without diabetes, but at risk, it's recommended that A1C be drawn every 6 months. Healthy readings are less than 5.7%—prediabetes is defined as 5.7-6.4%.
The higher your A1C level is, the poorer your blood glucose control and the more likely you are to develop complications of diabetes.
For many patients with diabetes, a target A1C level of below 7% is appropriate. This can often be achieved by aiming for a pre-meal glucose reading of 80-130 mg/dL or a 2-hour post-meal glucose reading of less than 180 mg/dL. However, more or less specific A1c goals may be appropriate for certain people. It is important to speak with your diabetes healthcare professional about what A1C goal is right for you and the target should be individualized based on such factors as the duration of your diabetes, age/life expectancy, your other health conditions, whether you have heart disease or other complications of diabetes, and your risk of other complications.
Having diabetes doesn't mean you can't have a normal, healthy life. By keeping your blood glucose down with healthy foods and being physically active, you can avoid complications such as kidney failure, blindness, amputation, heart disease and stroke.