For someone who doesn't have diabetes, a normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent. Someone who's had uncontrolled diabetes for a long time might have an A1C level above 8 percent.
When the A1C test is used to diagnose diabetes, an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate occasions indicates you have diabetes. A result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes.
For most people who have previously diagnosed diabetes, an A1C level of 7 percent or less is a common treatment target. Higher targets of up to 8 percent may be appropriate for some individuals. If your A1C level is above your target, your doctor may recommend a change in your diabetes treatment plan. Remember, the higher your A1C level, the higher your risk of diabetes complications.
Here's how the A1C level corresponds to the average blood sugar level, in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and millimoles per liter (mmol/L):
||Estimated average blood sugar level
||97 mg/dL (5.4 mmol/L)
||126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L)
||154 mg/dL (8.5 mmol/L)
||183 mg/dL (10.2 mmol/L)
||212 mg/dL (11.8 mmol/L)
||240 mg/dL (13.3 mmol/L)
||269 mg/dL (14.9 mmol/L)
||298 mg/dL (16.5 mmol/L)
||326 mg/dL (18.1 mmol/L)
||355 mg/dL (19.7 mmol/L)
It's important to note that the effectiveness of A1C tests may be limited in certain cases. For example:
- If you experience heavy or chronic bleeding, your hemoglobin stores may be depleted. This may make your A1C test results falsely low.
- If you have iron-deficiency anemia, your A1C test results may be falsely high.
- Most people have only one type of hemoglobin, called hemoglobin A. If you have an uncommon form of hemoglobin (known as a hemoglobin variant), your A1C test result may be falsely high or falsely low. Hemoglobin variants are most often found in blacks and people of Mediterranean or Southeast Asian heritage. Hemoglobin variants can be confirmed with lab tests. If you're diagnosed with a hemoglobin variant, your A1C tests may need to be done at a specialized lab for the most accurate results.
- If you have had a recent blood transfusion or have other forms of hemolytic anemia, this test would not be useful, as results may be falsely low.
Also keep in mind that the normal range for A1C results may vary somewhat among labs. If you consult a new doctor or use a different lab, it's important to consider this possible variation when interpreting your A1C test results.
Jan. 07, 2016
- Alter DN, et al. Alter D.N., Laposata M Alter, David N., and Michael Laposata.Pancreatic disorders. In: Laposata M Ed. Michael Laposata.Laboratory Medicine: The Diagnosis of Disease in the Clinical Laboratory. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2014. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Nov. 30, 2015.
- A1c and eAG. American Association for Clinical Chemistry. https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/a1c/tab/test. Accessed Nov. 30, 2015.
- A1C and eAG. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/a1c//. Accessed Nov. 30, 2015.
- The A1C test and diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/diagnostic-tests/a1c-test-diabetes/Pages/index.aspx. Accessed Nov. 30, 2015.