Reviewed by Dthia Kalkwarf Ann Mullen, RN, CNS, MSN, AE-C, Elizabeth F.O. Kern, MD, MS, Alexandra Wilson, MS, RD, Michelle O. MacDonald, RD, MS
 

Hemoglobin A1c Test

 

The Hemoglobin A1c test tells the doctor and patient the average blood sugar level over the last 3 months.

A person without diabetes
A1c less than or equal to 5.6%
Pre-Diabetes
A1c 5.7 to 6.4%
Diabetes

A1C equal to or greater than 6.5%

Healthy level for a person with diabetes
A1c less than 7.0%

 

What Causes A1c Levels to be high?

High average blood sugars over the past 3 months may be from:

  • Overweight/obesity or weight gain
  • Too many carbohydrates from foods and drinks
  • Not getting enough exercise  
  • Not taking diabetes medicines as prescribed
  • Diabetes medicines need to be adjusted or changed
  • Illness
  • Stress
  • Addition of medications, i.e.prednisone

How Can My A1c Be Lowered to a Healthy Level?

  • Lose 5-10% of your body weight, if overweight or obese
  • Limit how many carbohydrates you eat and drink
  • Be physically active 30 – 60 minutes at least 5 days a week, such as brisk  walking
  • Take medications as prescribed by your doctor


Your A1c level should be drawn every 3 – 6 months to best understand your overall blood sugar control. Your diabetes educator(s) can help you to balance diet, encourage exercise, understand medications, and help you cope  with stress to improve your A1C level and manage your diabetes.

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