The A1C is a blood test that measures the average level of extra glucose in a person’s blood over the past two to three months. A1C results are expressed as the percentage of the hemoglobin molecules that have glucose bound to them.
A person without diabetes produces enough insulin to maintain an A1C between 4 percent and 6 percent.
A person with type 1 diabetes needs insulin injections to move glucose into his cells. If he receives too little insulin for the glucose he’s ingested, his A1C will rise.
The American Diabetes Association recommends an A1C less than 7 percent for most adults with diabetes. ADA target ranges for children are age-specific: 7.5 to 8.5 percent for kids younger than 6, less than 8 percent for 6- to 12-year-olds, and less than 7.5 percent for teens from 13 to 19.
A1C targets aren’t cut and dried. For example, a person with diabetes and heart failure has a greater risk of death if his A1C is between 6.4 and 7.1 percent than if he maintains an A1C between 7.1 and 7.8. But if his glucose goes above 7.8, his risk rises again.
It’s important to work closely with your doctor to identify an A1C range that reflects your medical history and lifestyle.