How to Lower Your A1C Levels
What is an A1C?
An A1C is a laboratory test that measures average blood glucose, or blood sugar, control over a period of approximately two to three months. Red blood cells are made of a molecule – hemoglobin – that picks up oxygen in the blood and gives the blood its color. Glucose sticks to the hemoglobin to make a 'glycosylated hemoglobin' molecule, called hemoglobin A1C.
In addition to your A1C test results, your doctor may now be reporting your Estimated Average Glucose, or EAG.
The American Diabetes Association A1C goal is less than 7%. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) says to work toward a goal of 6.5% or less. However, these are just recommendations. Your individual goal may not be the same. This should be assessed by you and your healthcare provider according to your particular health conditions.
According to the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) conducted from 1983 to 1993 and the follow-up study, Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC), for every point you lower your A1C levels, you lower your risk of developing a variety of complications:
- eye disease risk is reduced by 76%
- kidney disease risk is reduced by 50%
- nerve disease risk is reduced by 60%
- any cardiovascular disease event risk is reduced by 42%
- nonfatal heart attack, stroke, or risk of death from cardiovascular causes is reduced by 57%
Why Does the A1C Matter?
The effects of prolonged high blood sugar levels are not always immediately noticeable, but the signs of continued neglect can show themselves at any time. Potential complications include:
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Gone are the days of repelling Mission Impossible-like from the hospital ceiling to retrieve Charlie's medical files before the CDE entered our exam room. It's not that I don't care anymore about his A1c. Of course I care. Maybe in the past I was more consumed by it. For a very long time I so desperately wanted to see an A1c below 8. Now that we've been comfortably in the low to mid-7s for the last couple of years, there's just an expectation. It's become a little anticlimactic....