What is Hemoglobin A1C?

blood driveI attended a diabetes update the other day, and wanted to share what I learned.

The speakers were great, but I was possibly even more impressed with the questions asked by people in the audience. One man, who disclosed that he’s had diabetes for 40 years, asked what “A1C” is. I was shocked! How could someone have diabetes for that long and not know what A1C is? Where is he going for his diabetes/health care? Why was he not taught this? (Ok, in everyone’s defense, maybe it was called something else, or this gentleman misunderstood or forgot – who knows).

I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who are not aware of or at the very least unsure of what A1C is. Because it is such an important part of diabetes management, I will explain it here. Hemoglobin A1C is considered a three-month “average” of blood glucose. It is measured to determine how someone’s blood glucose levels are doing in the big picture (as opposed to one-time fingerstick blood glucose levels done at home or in the clinic).

Although scientifically A1C is not as simple as an average, that’s the easiest way to explain it. People with diabetes ideally have their A1C checked every 3 months (sometimes less often if things are stable). A1C is measured in the blood – either by a blood draw or fingerstick, depending on what equipment the particular lab uses.

A1C tells us our relative risk of developing complications related to diabetes, which is, after all, why we manage this disease – to reduce that risk! In this post I wrote about the history of A1C.

If you have diabetes and you’ve never had an A1C checked – or you haven’t been told about A1C – please ask your health care provider right away.

This entry was posted in about diabetes, diabetes care and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *