Hemoglobin A1C: How Knowing Yours Can Help You Lead a Healthier Life
By Hailey Hart, RN, BSN
What is Hemoglobin A1C?
Hemoglobin A1C, also called the A1C test, is a blood test that estimates your average blood sugar level over a three-to-four-month period. Blood sugar levels change throughout the day and increase when your body processes the food you eat into glucose. Glucose is absorbed for energy and enters your bloodstream. Some of the glucose in your blood attaches to a certain kind of red blood cell called hemoglobin. This forms a new molecule in the blood called ‘glycated hemoglobin’.
This lab test measures the level of ‘glycated hemoglobin’ in your blood. So, if you consistently have higher levels of glucose in your blood over time, you will also have higher levels of the ‘glycated hemoglobin’. That is how this lab helps tell your healthcare team what your average glucose has been over the past three months. 
What do the numbers mean?
A1C levels are measured in percentages. An optimal A1C level is less than 5.7% and correlates with an average blood glucose level of 117. A level that is less than 5.7% tells your doctor that your body is processing glucose at a steady rate.
If your number is higher than 5.7%, but below 6.4%, this indicates that your body is not processing glucose at as a steady state which can also be known as prediabetes. Your healthcare team may ask you if they can do more tests to determine if you are at higher risk for diabetes or refer you to get further testing, as well as recommend lifestyle changes to lower your A1C!
If your A1C is 6.5% or higher, this higher level could mean that you might be diagnosed with diabetes. Your healthcare team will refer you to get further testing and make sure that your blood sugar levels were measured correctly. 
How does knowing my A1C help me?
Having your A1C measured regularly can give you the information you need to prevent major problems before they begin. When caught early, an A1C in the pre-diabetic range can be easier to lower with lifestyle changes. Many people ﬁnd that increasing physical movement, such as walking, yoga, or water aerobics can help to keep their blood glucose in the normal range. It may also be recommended to increase your dietary intake of ﬁber, which helps to keep your blood sugar steady throughout the day. 
If your A1C levels are in the diabetic range, it is even more important to have this information. Many people who have diabetes do not notice symptoms until their condition is more severe. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, your healthcare team will likely discuss medications and lifestyle changes that will work together to keep your average blood sugar level lower. Even if you have already developed diabetes, these interventions can help reduce the risks associated with your condition, such as heart disease, kidney problems, and issues with your vision. 
What if I don’t have insurance?
That’s okay! Fortunately, there are organizations that believe that everyone should have easy access to their health information, regardless of ﬁnancial situation. 365 Health oﬀers A1C testing for just $35 whether you have insurance or not.
And because November is Diabetes Awareness Month, we are offering our A1C blood screening at a 20% off with the code diabetes20. Code is valid until 11/30/22 & the screening must be completed by 12/31/22. You can get tested at a Quest PSC location around Colorado.
Knowing your A1C can help you to live a healthier, happier life. Don’t wait to ﬁnd out yours.
- 1. Medicalnewstoday.com. 2022. The Hemoglobin A1C test: Uses, procedure, and target levels. [online] Available at:
<https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265443#who-should-get-one> [Accessed 11