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Understanding A1C: A Key Marker in Diabetes Management

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Understanding A1C: A Key Marker in Diabetes Management

By Tyler J. Hyslep, PA-C

Diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder and one of the most common chronic diseases seen at our office. Managing diabetes requires close monitoring of blood glucose levels to prevent complications. One crucial tool that we use is an A1C test. A1C is a blood test that measures the average blood glucose level over the past three months. It provides a valuable indicator of long-term blood sugar control, offering insights into a person’s overall diabetes management.


The A1C test measures the percentage of hemoglobin molecules in the blood that have glucose attached to them. Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. When blood glucose levels are high, more glucose binds to hemoglobin, forming an A1C. The result is presented as a percentage, representing the average blood glucose levels over a specific period. Since red blood cells are recycled every 90-120 days by the spleen, it give us a predicted 90 day average. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is defined as an A1C greater than 6.5%. Pre-diabetes is an A1C 5.7-6.4% which carries an increased risk of developing diabetes in the future.


For people with diabetes, the target A1C level varies depending on factors such as age, overall health, and presence of other medical conditions. Generally, an A1C level below 7% is considered optimal for most individuals with diabetes. However, targets may be adjusted individually, either higher or lower.


In conclusion, an A1C test allows us to determine the efficacy of treatment and prognosis of corresponding chronic diseases.

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