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A1C TESTING

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 management and diabetes research. The A1C test is just one of the many tests carried out by the Pharma Wellness Program.

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 glucose 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 committee 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.

Because the A1C test does not require fasting and blood can be drawn for the test at any time of day, experts are hoping its convenience will allow more people to get tested—thus, decreasing the number of people with undiagnosed diabetes. However, some medical organizations continue to recommend using blood glucose tests for diagnosis.

How is the A1C test used to diagnose type 2 diabetes and prediabetes?

The A1C test can be used to diagnose type 2 diabetes and prediabetes alone or in combination with other diabetes tests.

Diagnosis*A1C Level
Normalbelow 5.7 percent
Prediabetes5.7 to 6.4 percent
Diabetes6.5 percent or above

* Any test for diagnosis of diabetes requires confirmation with a second measurement unless there are clear symptoms of diabetes.

Having prediabetes is a risk factor for getting type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes may be retested each year. Within the prediabetes A1C range of 5.7 to 6.4 percent, the higher the A1C, the greater the risk of diabetes. Those with prediabetes are likely to develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years, but they can take steps to prevent or delay diabetes.


References: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Health Information Center