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The A1C Test And Diabetes


The A1C Test And Diabetes
The A1C Test And Diabetes
The A1C Test
and Diabetes
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
U.S. Department
of Health and
Human Services
NATIONAL
INSTITUTES
OF HEALTH
What is the A1C test
The A1C test is a blood test that provides
information about a person’s average levels
of blood glucose, also called blood sugar,
over the past 3 months. The A1C test is
sometimes called the hemoglobin A1c,
HbA1c, or glycohemoglobin test. The A1C
test is the primary test used for diabetes man-
agement and diabetes research.
How does the A1C test work
The A1C test is based on the attachment
of glucose to hemoglobin, the protein in
red blood cells that carries oxygen. In the
body, red blood cells are constantly forming
and dying, but typically they live for about
3 months. Thus, the A1C test reflects the
average of a person’s blood glucose levels
over the past 3 months. The A1C test result
is reported as a percentage. The higher the
percentage, the higher a person’s blood glu-
cose levels have been. A normal A1C level is
below 5.7 percent.
Can the A1C test be used to
diagnose type 2 diabetes and
prediabetes
Yes. In 2009, an international expert com-
mittee recommended the A1C test as one
of the tests available to help diagnose type 2
diabetes and prediabetes.
1
Previously, only
the traditional blood glucose tests were used
to diagnose diabetes and prediabetes.
1
The International Expert Committee. International
Expert Committee report on the role of the A1C
assay in the diagnosis of diabetes. Diabetes Care.
2009;32(7):1327–1334.
Because the A1C test does not require fast-
ing and blood can be drawn for the test at
any time of day, experts are hoping its conve-
nience will allow more people to get tested—
thus, decreasing the number of people with
undiagnosed diabetes. However, some medi-
cal organizations continue to recommend
using blood glucose tests for diagnosis.
Why should a person be
tested for diabetes
Testing is especially important because
early in the disease diabetes has no symp-
toms. Although no test is perfect, the
A1C and blood glucose tests are the best
tools available to diagnose diabetes—a
serious and lifelong disease.
Testing enables health care providers
to find and treat diabetes before com-
plications occur and to find and treat
prediabetes, which can delay or prevent
type 2 diabetes from developing.
The A1C Test And Diabetes
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