If you’re among the millions of Americans with Type 2 diabetes, knowing your A1C is a key step in managing your condition. This quick blood test reveals your average blood sugar level over the previous 2-3 months.
When your A1C is high, it’s a sign that it’s time to make some important dietary and lifestyle changes. If you don’t lower your A1C, you increase your risk of developing some serious complications, such as heart disease and blindness.
At Integrative Primary Care in Katy, Texas, our primary care providers help patients in the Houston area struggling with diabetes reclaim their lives by getting their blood sugar under control. We also want to be sure you have the information you need to make healthy choices.
We put together this post with the info you need regarding your A1C, what can happen when it’s high, and the steps you can take to lower it. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about your A1C!
What is A1C?
A1C is a blood test. It’s sometimes called other names, such as glycohemoglobin test, hemoglobin A1C, or HbA1C. This test tells you your body's average blood sugar (glucose) level over the previous 2-3 months.
Your blood contains hemoglobin, a protein that moves oxygen and other cellular nutrients around your body. When it picks up glucose, the sugar binds to the protein, creating something called “glycated hemoglobin.” This means hemoglobin with glucose attached.
The more glucose you have in your blood, the more blood sugar will attach to your hemoglobin. An A1C test measures the amount of glycated hemoglobin (hemoglobin with glucose attached) you have in your blood.
If you have Type 2 diabetes, knowing your A1C levels can help you make changes to your lifestyle, diet, and treatment plan before serious complications set in. It can also alert people who haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes that they’re prediabetic.
How can I tell if my A1C is high?
Experts who study diabetes have created a range of A1C levels to help you understand where you stand. A1C results are shown in percentages. This number shows you what percent of glycated hemoglobin you have.
For example, if you get an A1C result of 10%, this means you have 10 glycated hemoglobins out of every 100 hemoglobins in your blood. The range of A1C levels is:
- Normal: Under 5.7%
- Prediabetes: 5.7% - 6.4%
- Diabetes: 6.5% and above
The higher your percentage, the higher your blood sugar levels. A higher A1C also means a greater risk of developing serious diabetes-related conditions.
Why is a high A1C dangerous?
Research shows a strong link between high A1C levels and very serious diabetes complications. The diabetes-related complications include:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart attack
- Vision complications (glaucoma, cataracts, retinopathy, macular edema)
- Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage)
- Kidney disease
- Gum disease
Again, the higher your A1C, the greater your risk of developing one of these conditions. This is why having a high A1C can be dangerous.
How can I lower my A1C?
The good news is you can manage your blood sugar to help lower your A1C levels. By doing this, you can reduce your risk of developing diabetes-related complications.
At Integrative Primary Care, our providers work with you to create a diabetes management plan that fits your health care needs and lifestyle. If your A1C levels are high, talk with your provider about the best ways to lower them.
Your Integrative Primary Care provider may make adjustments to your medications to help lower your A1C. You may also need to make key lifestyle changes to protect your health. These may include:
- Changing your diet
- Tracking your meals
- Practicing healthy stress management (e.g., yoga)
- Getting and staying physically active
- Regular blood sugar testing at home
To learn more about A1C tests or for more information about Type 2 diabetes, call 832-500-7585 or book an appointment online with Integrative Primary Care today.