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What’s Your Hemoglobin A1c?

By Dr. Carrie Jones Expert HERWriter
 
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Concerned about diabetes or your blood sugar over the last few weeks? Then ask your doctor for a hemoglobin A1c (abbreviated as a HbA1c). This nifty little test is a good long term marker for your sugars, especially if you haven’t been eating that healthy lately.

The results are read in a percentage, such as 5.5 or 9 percent. The American Diabetes Association considers normal less than 7 percent, while the International Diabetes Federation and American College of Endocrinology recommends your results be under 6.5. I tend to recommend under 5.5 percent (much stricter, I know), as I am all about prevention and a study of 48,000 found that a HbA1c above 6.5 percent to have an increased mortality rate.

The higher the HbA1c the worse your blood sugar is over time. Continuous elevations in blood sugar increases the risk for coronary disease, heart attack, stroke, heart problems, kidney problems, erectile dysfunction, vision problems, and numbness in the fingers and toes.

The hemoglobin A1c measures up to average blood sugars as well. For example, a normal blood sugar is 99mg/dL or below. This is equivalent to a HbA1c of 5 percent. A 6 percent is equal to 126 mg/dL and 7 percent is 154 mg/dL. It gets worse from here.

What concerns me about the American Diabetes Association is that they consider a 7 percent or 154 mg/dL within range. This should concern you too and I encourage you to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range to avoid diabetes and all its complications.

First, cut out all the extra sugar in your diet. Eliminate sugary drinks, sodas, coffee drinks, muffins, scones, cookies, candy, chocolate fixes, ice cream, sugary cereals and more. Check labels and make sure you aren’t getting sugar in hidden places such as yogurt, spaghetti sauce and baked goods.

Second, get off your backside and start seriously exercising. Having a busy job or being on the move all day doesn’t count unless you are increasing your heart rate into a target range for a prolonged period of time. Additionally, it’s important to lift weights as it uses sugar much more efficiently.

Third, get tested!

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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