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Quality Health Care and You - Diabetes

Sugar Control and Hemoglobin A1c

What it is

Everyone's blood contains a sugar called glucose, the main source of fuel to give your body energy. There are two basic ways of measuring blood sugar. The first is direct measurement. The second is a test call Hemoglobin A1c (although they are many names for the same test). The A1c provides an indication of what your glucose has been on the average for the previous few months. It is different from testing your sugar level at one specific moment (like a regular glucose test done at home with the strips).

How it Relates to Diabetes

The best way to avoid or put off the complications of diabetes (damage to kidneys, eyes, nerves, blood vessels and heart) is to keep your blood glucose as close to normal as possible. As a bonus, you will feel better!

 

 

The Quality Standard - How to Know You're Okay

The A1c level that is appropriate for you is a very individual decision. Some organizations such as the American Diabetes Association have recommended that the target level should be less than 7%. However, it is important to recognize that sometimes this cannot be achieved safely so that different levels would be considered acceptable. Your health care provider should be watching your glucose control with this specific A1c test, so make sure you have it done at least twice a year, or even every 3 months, or so.

What You Can Do

There is so much you can do to keep your A1c in the right range. Talk with your doctor about the A1c test, and what the right level is for you. Once you get the test, find out your results, so you can follow your A1c along with your doctor. Finally, the key to keeping your A1c in the right range is your diabetes program: diet, exercise and medicines (insulin or pills). Your A1c shows if you are on track with sugar control or if you need change your program. Keeping it there is the best way to protect your vision, heart and kidneys, decreasing your risk of amputation, heart attack and stroke.

To Learn More

For more information:

Go to the Quality Health Care and You - Diabetes health topic, where you can:

This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

Last Reviewed: Dec 07, 2012

David C Aron, MD, MS David C Aron, MD, MS
Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University

Bette K Idemoto, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, CCRN Bette K Idemoto, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, CCRN
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing
Case Western Reserve University