Health and Nutrition
You should have an A1c test at least two times each year if you have diabetes. It’s not a fasting test. You can take it any time of day, before or after eating.
Why Is It Important?
Your red blood cells have something called hemoglobin that carries oxygen from your lungs to cells all over your body. Glucose goes into your red blood cells and coats molecules of hemoglobin. The more glucose you have in your blood, the more coated hemoglobin molecules you have.
The A1c measures how much of your hemoglobin is coated with sugar. The higher your level, the greater your chance for problems down the road. It means your blood sugar control plan isn't working at its best.
How Often Do You Need the Test?
Your doctor probably will have you take the A1c as soon as you’re diagnosed with diabetes. You’ll also have the test if he thinks you may get diabetes. The test will set a baseline level so you can see how well you’re controlling your blood sugar.
How often you’ll need the test after that depends on several things, like:
- The type of diabetes you have
- Your blood sugar control
- Your treatment plan
You may get tested twice each year if you have type 2 diabetes, don't use insulin, and your blood sugar level is usually in your target range.
You could get it three or four times each year if you have type 1 diabetes.
You’ll likely get four tests per year if you have type 2 diabetes and use insulin, or have trouble keeping your blood sugar level in your target range.
You may also need the test more often if your diabetes plan changes or you start a new medicine.
What Does Your A1c Number Mean?
You will get your results back as a percentage. People without diabetes should be below 5.7%
A result between 5.7% and 6.4% signals prediabetes.
For people with diabetes, an A1c of 7% or less is a common treatment target. Someone who has had untreated diabetes for a long time might have a level above 8%.
If you have diabetes and your level is above your target, your doctor may change your treatment plan to get your level down.