A1C Test

Here is an overview of what an A1C test is, what to expect at your appointment, and when this test is used.


Diabetes is a national increasing problem that puts at risk the lives of millions of Americans.

Early diagnosis is essential to avoid diabetes complications. For accurate diagnosis and treatment, The American Diabetes Association recommends the A1C Test, a blood test that provides information about blood glucose levels.

In this article, we will elaborate on the process, results, and importance of the A1C test.

What is the A1C Test? 

A1C is a blood test that informs about the average level of glucose in the blood during the past 2 to 3 months. The test is also known for the names of HbA1c, hemoglobin A1C, glycated hemoglobin, or glycohemoglobin.

How the Test Works

Red blood cells have a life span of 3 months or so. The red blood cells carry a protein called hemoglobin, which is responsible to transport oxygen through the body. As the blood sugar levels get higher, the more glucose will attach to the hemoglobin. Consequently, high levels of hemoglobin mean high levels of glucose. The A1C test measures the hemoglobin levels.

Interpretation of the Results 

The standard ranges of the A1C test are the following:

  • Normal. The A1C level is below 5.7 percent
  • Prediabetes. The A1C level is on the range between 5.7 to 6.4 percent
  • Diabetes. The A1C level is on 6.5 percent or above

Results are helpful to track glucose levels. You can either have the test done at a medical facility or at home with an A1C test kit. Your doctor should tell you how often you need to have an A1C test done. Usually, for patients with stable blood sugar levels, the test only needs to be done twice a year.

Is A1c a reliable and accurate test? 

The A1C complements the results of urine or finger pricking tests.

Urine and finger pricking tests are accurate, but they only provide blood glucose information from a very specific time of the day. This is because of the constant changes in the blood glucose levels. The blood glucose levels vary because of our eating habits, physical activity, stress, or hormonal changes. 

In contrast to urine tests or daily finger pricking routines, the A1c Test doesn’t require fasting and is less likely to be affected by the changes in the blood glucose levels. 

The National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program has adapted measurements to make the A1C tests more accurate. Nonetheless, the accuracy of A1C results can vary between half percent higher or lower from the actual results. For example, if your hemoglobin A1c is 5 percent, then the actual result might be between 4.5 to 5.5 percent.

Causes of False A1C Results

Falsely A1C levels are likely to appear in people with health conditions like:

  • Illnesses that cause changes in the red blood cells or the hemoglobin like sickle cell disease, or hemodialysis.
  • Iron-deficiency anemia
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver disease

Ethnicity might also be an issue. The test results might be compromised for ethnic groups — African, Mediterranean, or Southeast Asian — which tend to have a distinct type of hemoglobin.

What to Do Next

The risk of having diabetes complications increases when the hemoglobin A1c levels are too high. Depending on your health condition, your doctor should establish goals to balance your A1c levels.

To achieve treatment goals, your doctor might suggest:

  • Use of A1c or other tools to measure your blood glucose levels
  • Diet changes
  • Physical activity
  • Medication

At BASS Primary Care we provide treatment to manage diabetes within a fulfilling and healthy lifestyle. Consult with our healthcare professionals for further medical advice.

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