Eighty four million Americans (more than 1 in 3 adults) have prediabetes and are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Of these individuals, 90% do not know they have prediabetes.  In Alaska, the data is very similar.  Prediabetes means a person’s blood glucose (sugar) is higher than normal but not high enough yet to be type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes are also at higher risk of other serious health issues such as heart attack and stroke. However, the vast majority of people with prediabetes can take steps to reduce their risk. Through weight loss, diet changes, and increased physical activity, prediabetes can be reversed.

It’s better to know than wonder. Take this risk test in one minute, to find out if you’re one of the 1 in 3 American adults with prediabetes. Visit www.DoIHavePrediabetes.org/take-the-risk-test

What is A1C test?

The A1C test is a blood test that provides information about your average levels of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, over the past 3 months. The A1C test can be used to diagnose type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.1 The A1C test is also the primary test used for diabetes management.

The A1C test is sometimes called the hemoglobin A1C, HbA1c, glycated hemoglobin, or glycohemoglobin test. Hemoglobin is the part of a red blood cell that carries oxygen to the cells. Glucose attaches to or binds with hemoglobin in your blood cells, and the A1C test is based on this attachment of glucose to hemoglobin.

The higher the glucose level in your bloodstream, the more glucose will attach to the hemoglobin. The A1C test measures the amount of hemoglobin with attached glucose and reflects your average blood glucose levels over the past 3 months.

The A1C test result is reported as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the higher your blood glucose levels have been. A normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent.

Why should a person get the A1C test?

Testing can help health care professionals

  • find prediabetes and counsel you about lifestyle changes to help you delay or prevent type 2 diabetes
  • find type 2 diabetes
  • work with you to monitor the disease and help make treatment decisions to prevent complications

If you have risk factors for prediabetes or diabetes, talk with your doctor about whether you should be tested.

 

An A1C test is a blood test that reflects your average blood glucose levels over the past 3 months.

You may be able to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes such as weight loss or being physically active most days of the week.

 

How is the A1C test used to diagnose type 2 diabetes and prediabetes?

Health care professionals can use the A1C test alone or in combination with tests to diagnose type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. You don’t have to fast before having your blood drawn for an A1C test, which means that blood can be drawn for the test at any time of the day.

If you don’t have symptoms but the A1C test shows you have diabetes or prediabetes, you should have a repeat test on a different day using the A1C test or one of the other diabetes tests to confirm the diagnosis.2

A1C results and what the numbers mean
*Any test used to diagnose diabetes requires confirmation with a second measurement, unless there are clear symptoms of diabetes.
Diagnosis* A1C Level
Normal below 5.7 percent
Prediabetes 5.7 to 6.4 percent
Diabetes 6.5 percent or above

When using the A1C test for diagnosis, your doctor will send your blood sample taken from a vein to a lab that uses an NGSP-certified method. The NGSP , formerly called the National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program, certifies that makers of A1C tests provide results that are consistent and comparable with those used in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial.

Blood samples analyzed in a doctor’s office or clinic, known as point-of-care tests, should not be used for diagnosis.

The A1C test should not be used to diagnose type 1 diabetesgestational diabetes, or cystic fibrosis -related diabetes. The A1C test may give false results in people with certain conditions.

Having prediabetes is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Within the prediabetes A1C range of 5.7 to 6.4 percent, the higher the A1C, the greater the risk of diabetes.

Contributed by
Linda Vlastuin, RN, MS,
AHF and Alaska Kidney Foundation Kidney Health Educator