The hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar (glucose) level over the past two to three months. Glucose is a type of sugar that your body uses for energy. It is important to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range to prevent complications from diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and blindness.
The HbA1c test is used to:
- Diagnose prediabetes and diabetes
- Monitor how well your diabetes is being controlled
- Adjust your diabetes treatment plan, if needed
How is the HbA1c test performed?
The HbA1c test is a simple blood test. A healthcare professional will take a small sample of blood from a vein in your arm. The blood sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing.
What are the normal HbA1c levels?
The normal range for HbA1c levels is:
- Below 5.7% for adults without diabetes
- 5.7% to 6.4% for adults with prediabetes
- 6.5% or higher for adults with diabetes
If your HbA1c level is higher than normal, it means that your blood sugar levels have been high for too long. This can increase your risk of developing complications from diabetes.
How often should I have an HbA1c test?
How often you need an HbA1c test depends on whether you have diabetes.
- If you do not have diabetes, you may only need an HbA1c test every three to five years.
- If you have prediabetes, you may need an HbA1c test every year.
- If you have diabetes, you will likely need an HbA1c test every three to six months.
If you have diabetes, your healthcare team will work with you to develop a target HbA1c level. This is the level that you should aim for to reduce your risk of complications.
What can I do to lower my HbA1c level?
There are a number of things you can do to lower your HbA1c level, including:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Take your diabetes medications as prescribed
- Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly
If you have diabetes, it is important to work with your healthcare team to develop a management plan that is right for you. This plan may include changes to your diet and exercise habits, as well as medication.