Living with diabetes blog

A1C test helps diagnose diabetes

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N., C.D.E. October 27, 2009

Our office recently received a call asking about a "new" blood test to diagnose diabetes. You may have heard on the news earlier this year that at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting an international committee of experts announced their consensus that the A1C blood test is an accurate way to diagnose diabetes.

The A1C test, also known as glycated hemoglobin or HbA1C, is a blood test that provides a picture of average blood sugar control for the past two to three months. When you have uncontrolled diabetes, you have too much sugar in your blood stream. The extra blood glucose enters your red blood cells and sticks to the molecules of the hemoglobin.

The A1C measures the percentage of glycosylated hemoglobin in your blood and this gives your doctor an overview of your average blood glucose control over the past 2-3 months. So, the A1C test is not new, it is just that it's now being recommended as a tool to diagnose diabetes.

The A1C helps:

  • Confirm self-testing blood glucose results
  • To evaluate whether or not your diabetes management plan is working
  • You see how healthy choices make a difference in blood sugar control

The A1C does not:

  • Replace daily self-testing of blood glucose
  • Measure your day-to-day control. You cannot adjust your insulin doses based on A1C tests

Daily self-testing of blood glucose and your log results are important to staying in effective control. The A1C test is used along with your daily blood glucose checks for the best possible control.

Oct. 27, 2009