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  • Juanita Weaver-Reiss

What is the A1C?

I am continuing to describe the 9 essential things to know if you have diabetes. I have talked about the fact that you are an individual first before having diabetes. Even after the diagnosis (and this is very important) you are still the same person you were before. It is important not to let diabetes crowd that out or for you to lose track of that.

That is why the other things in the list are good to know. They can help you find the person again if you have accidentally misplaced yourself after your diagnosis. They can help you put diabetes in the backseat and you in the driver's seat and in charge of your life again.

Number 4 of the 9 things to know are a bunch of numbers. The last post was on blood glucose check numbers. This week is about the A1C. These two are related to each other. The blood glucose check numbers influence what your A1C is going to be.

What is the A1C?

The A1C is an average of all your blood glucose checks from a two to three month time. You may hear educators talk about the ABC's that you need to know about. The A1C is the A in the ABC's.

Why is the A1C important to know about?

The A1C is important to know about because it tells you where your blood glucose is staying most of the time. If the value is elevated, 8 or above, or trending up from your last value, that can be information you can use to keep blood glucose checks in a pre-determined range and to prevent complications. It means it is time to take action and figure out where and when the blood glucose checks are higher and what to do about those.

Targets for A1C

Usually the target for an A1C is < 7%. This is not always the case for everyone. Sometimes the doctor may say your target is going to be lower than that and may want your A1C to be less than 6.5. There are some people whose target is 8%.

These differences in what the target is means you need to ask your doctor or provider what your specific target is for your A1C. When you know your specific target, you can compare your current A1C to that goal.

How often is the A1C checked?

Usually the A1C is checked every 3 months.

Sometimes the doctor will check the A1C every 6 months if the A1C is within target ranges and the daily blood glucose checks are in target ranges.

Ask your doctor how often you will have the A1C checked.

My A1C is in target range. Why should I check my blood glucose every day?

Remember the A1C is an average of all of your glucose checks. It by itself doesn't tell you what is happening every day.

The daily glucose check gives you other important information that the A1C alone doesn't give you. For instance, if you want to include a dessert in at a meal, it will be the two hour check after that meal that will inform you of how the carbohydrates at the meal worked and how the portion of the dessert fit within the plan to manage the glucose within a certain range.

The A1C by itself doesn't tell you about high checks or lows. It is an average of everything. To know how the daily plan is working it is still beneficial to have the daily checks I like to explain it is like using your two hands to pick up a big box that I have put on a table in front of you. The box is really heavy and you cannot lift it with just one hand.

In the same way, both types of checking, the daily blood glucose checks and the A1C, are needed to assess how things with your diabetes plan is working. Are you on the right medicine and the right doses? How is the food fitting into the plan? And how does your body respond to activity?

Action steps:

Talk with your doctor about what your target for the A1C is.

Know what your A1C number is.

Schedule an appointment with me as your coach

Wishing you Best Health,


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