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What is an A1C blood sugar test?

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Quick Answer

An A1C blood sugar test is used to diagnose diabetes and gauge how well a diabetes treatment plan is working, according to American Diabetes Association. The test result reflects average blood sugar levels over the course of the past two to three months.

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Full Answer

An A1C test helps manage diabetes by confirming self-test results and blood test results ordered by the doctor. The test also confirms whether a treatment plan is working and highlights how healthy lifestyle choices help control diabetes, notes American Diabetes Association. Because the A1C test measures blood sugar levels over a period of months and not any one point in time, it is a more accurate reflection of how effective a patient’s diabetes treatment plan is, notes Mayo Clinic.

A normal A1C level for someone without diabetes generally ranges from 4.5 to 6 percent, explains Mayo Clinic. Levels between 5.7 and 6.4 percent indicate the patient is at a high risk of developing diabetes, while levels above 6.5 percent on two separate tests indicate diabetes. For people who are diabetic, a target level of 7 percent or less is desirable, as of 2015. When levels go beyond the target, the treating physician may modify the treatment plan. Regardless of whether the person is diabetic or not, a higher A1C level indicates a higher risk of diabetes complications.

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