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A1C holds the key for diabetes

GEHA | September 22, 2022

If you’re over 45 or overweight, get a baseline A1C test.

If you suspect you — or a loved one — may be at risk for diabetes, visit your doctor and discuss taking an A1C blood test.

This simple blood test provides a view of your average blood sugar levels over the past three months. Using this data, doctors can determine prediabetes, which increases the risk of developing diabetes. Doctors can also use A1C results to diagnose diabetes or discover how well your diabetes plan is working.

A normal A1C level is below 5.7%. The goal for most adults with diabetes is less than 7%. An A1C level between 5.7% and 6.4% indicates a prediabetes range. An A1C level of 6.5% or higher is in the range for diabetes. Because the test results come back as a range of percentages, your goal should also be in a range around a target number.

If you’re over age 45, or if you’re under 45 and are overweight, you should get a baseline A1C test. The higher your A1C level, the poorer your blood sugar control and the higher your risk of diabetes complications. If the result shows you have prediabetes or diabetes, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan.

The A1C test is in addition to — not instead of — regular blood sugar self-testing if you have diabetes. Blood sugar goes up and down throughout the day and night, which isn’t captured by your A1C. If you’re reaching your A1C goal but have symptoms of highs or lows, check your blood sugar more often and at different times of the day. Keep track and share the results with your doctor.

A combination of diet, exercise and medication can bring your levels down. Work closely with your doctor in managing your blood sugar level long-term.

If you haven’t established a primary care physician, GEHA has tips for finding the right primary care physician. You can also search for an in-network physician near you.

Additional resources for managing diabetes are available on the GEHA blog, and on our new diabetes resources page.

The information contained herein is for informational and educational purposes only. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice and if you have questions regarding a medical condition, regimen, or treatment you should always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice from a qualified medical professional because of information you have read herein.

“The facts, stats and impacts of diabetes.”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 January, 2022.
“A1C Test.” Mayo Clinic, 30 January, 2021.
“All About Your A1C.”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 August, 2021.
“A1C does it all.”, American Diabetes Association.