San Francisco Diabetes Resources

My “A1C” is high. What does that mean?

If you could look inside your body, your blood sugar should up and down with every meal. If you take all the sugar in your body, day in and day out over 3 months, this gives you an average of your blood sugar, or a lab test called “A1C.” 

Your day to day blood sugars roughly compare to A1C levels like this.

The higher your day-to-day blood sugars, usually the higher your A1C is. The lower your day-to-day blood sugars, usually the lower your A1C is.

You might have to do some detective work. Check at different times to figure out your blood sugar patterns. For most people, a safe blood sugar is 80-130 before meals, and under 180 if you check 2 hours after eating. The more your day to day blood sugars are within these ranges, the more your average will also be in a safe range.

Clinical studies with thousands of people with diabetes show that keeping the A1C average below 7% is safest for the eyes, kidneys and nerves in the long-run. In pregnant women, younger people or recently diagnosed, a lower A1C would be even better. In older people, people who have had diabetes for a long time, or have many other health problems, a higher A1C might be safer. 

The A1C is important but it’s only an average. In the end, everyone is different. Work with your provider to figure out the safest range for your blood sugars.

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