The HbA1c test, generally called just an A1c test, is a glycated hemoglobin test that is used to monitor diabetics to ensure proper blood sugar control, states WebMD. The test provides an average blood sugar level compared to the previous 2 or 3 months, making it an important part of diabetes management.
The test looks at hemoglobin, which is the part of the blood that carries oxygen throughout the body via the red blood cells, notes WebMD. Uncontrolled blood sugar causes the sugar to build up, combining with hemoglobin, making it glycated. The A1c level shows the amount of hemoglobin the blood; if it is high, then glucose levels have been high, or uncontrolled, for several weeks.
The normal A1c level is between 4 and 5.6 percent; readings of 5.7 to 6.4 percent are indicative of an increased risk for developing diabetes. An A1c level of 6.5 percent or more indicates the presence of diabetes. When creating a blood sugar control plan, the goal is to keep A1c levels at 7 percent or less. This reduces the risk of diabetes-related complications.
The general recommendation for diabetics is to have their A1c levels checked every 3 months. Diabetics who have well-controlled diabetes may wait longer periods of time between tests.