A1C: Martin Abrahamson, M.D.

The A1C is an important measurement of how effectively you are managing your diabetes.

The A1C, or as some refer to it, the Glycohemoglobin or Hemoglobin A1c test, reflects your average blood glucose control for the two to three month period before the test. This test can be done on a sample of blood obtained from a fingerstick or from a small vial of blood drawn from your arm and then tested in a lab.

We at the Joslin recommend that this test be done every three to six months. A person with normal blood glucose levels would have an A1C between four and six. Through our Joslin Clinical Guidelines, we recommend that you aim for an A1C value of less than seven percent and as close to normal as possible provided that achieving this goal does not increase the risk for developing low sugars, which we call hypoglycemia. The higher your A1C, the greater your risk for developing complications such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, neuropathy, and circulation problems. By keeping blood glucose levels under control you’ll simply feel better.

As a complement to the A1C test, we recommend that you monitor your blood glucose regularly at home. The frequency of testing depends on the complexity of your therapy and may range from once a day to six or eight times daily. People who are ill with infections, for example, and women who are pregnant should check their blood sugars more frequently.

Controlling blood glucose levels, keeping them at less than 7 percent, and measuring them every three to six months through the A1C and daily through home blood glucose monitoring are critical in staying healthy and avoiding the serious consequences of diabetic-related complications.

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