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Hemoglobin A1c test - checking your blood sugar level

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Most people who have diabetes already know what I am talking about in this post.

But it is important to know that a large percentage of the people who are pre-diabetic or diabetic have no idea and this can be very dangerous to your health. Especially people who are normal weight and quite active and fit don't think they could have diabetes.
But I was one of them and am still working to lower my blood sugar levels with a low-carb diet after eating a little too much fruit this past summer.

Diabetes brings with it the risk of many serious health problems including heart disease, kidney disease, neuropathy (nerve damage) and obesity. When caught early enough all the symptoms of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes are reversible and health can be restored through a low-carbohydrate diet. The person will always be carbohydrate-intolerant but can stay healthy without medication or insulin.
The Hemoglobin A1c test can be done in any doctor's office or you can buy a test kit for under $10.00 in places like Walmart and many drug stores.
This test is different from daily blood sugar testing. It gives a long-term picture of average blood sugar levels by measuring how much glucose is attached to the hemoglobin in your blood. There are a few cases where the A1c test will not produce accurate results (for instance people who do not have normal Hemoglobin levels) but in most cases A1c results are very helpful, especially for people who are not diabetic but may be in the pre-diabetic range and not on medication.
The normal levels for this test are 5.6 and below, pre-diabetic is 5.7-6.4 and anything above that is considered diabetic. The pre-diabetic range was picked because at this level there is already some damage to various parts of the body because of the excess blood sugar and/or higher insulin levels.
Some physicians will recommend A1c levels that are significantly below 5.7 as the healthiest. One of them is Dr. Bernstein, author of this book:

If people change their diet by reducing carbohydrate intake enough (how much depends on the person) in most cases blood sugar and insulin levels will return to normal levels and some or all of the damage done will heal itself.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • LARRYS48
    Well, this is all very informative and really appreciated. I live in Canada and have recently had an A1C test done by my physician. I fall in the 65+ age bracket and the results were 7.1 and 6.9 (on the retest). I didn't know that the cholesterol meds had an effect on this test and will definitely ask the doc about that aspect. I have Dr. Bernstien's book and will follow a restricted carbohydrate diet to try and control the blood sugars to within the desired range. One area that I have a hard time understanding is the A1C test results and the regular daily blood sugar tests? A1C is in 5.7 what? whereas daily tests are 85mg/dL. What's the co-relation??
    1158 days ago
    1323 days ago
    Great info thanks
    1323 days ago
  • SKATER787
    Birgit, thanks for the tip about home test a1c. I didn't know there was one. I found a 2-test kit on Amazon for around $40. I'll check out Walmart if they are cheaper.

    I've seen Dr. Bernstein's book before, but I didn't order it because I read that his protocol is very strict and that he talks a lot about Type 1 which he had. Although, I'm not diabetic, I have come to the conclusion that everyone is better off following diets that keep blood glucose stable. The glucose spikes are bad news and normally we don't even feel it because our bodies made adjustments. We owe it to the diabetics for this information and awareness.
    1324 days ago
    I wonder whether the A1c test is available in Canadian Walmarts. I definitely need to check this out. Thanks so much for posting this!
    1324 days ago
    I never knew I could test A1C at home. Must go investigate!
    1324 days ago
    My A1c when out of whack due to my cholesterol meds. we changed meds, aded cinnamon capsules or chromium picantate and it is back in the normal ranges

    I used both pills before as did hubby who is a diabetic who suffers from metabolic syndrome, and it brings things back within normal levels and also helps a lot with the carb cravings. and best of all it is cheap
    1324 days ago
    I should look into this for my DH, who is definitely in the pre-diabetic category and apparently just won't be satisfied until he's full-blown Type 2 like his dad. The fasting tests and home stick tests just don't seem to get through to him, since once in a while they'll read in the normal range.
    1324 days ago
    My mother-in-law is a tight control diabetic and about two years ago she had her first episode in over twenty years where she drove for a half hour, had a wreck and doesn't remember even driving. She is considered a tight control diabetic. If they want her numbers between 70 and 100, she kept it close to 70. Her A1C was consistently under 5.5. There can be danger also for people who are tight control as the body may not recognize when your blood sugar drops.

    Research is emerging that older individuals need higher numbers. They now have my mother-in-law keeping her numbers between 120 and 130. Of course she kept it between 120-125. Her last A1C was 5.9. They are now telling her they want her numbers between 130 and 160 with her next A1C test between 6.1 and 6.5.

    She is frustrated but I am happy about it as I can't convince her, she needs to eat more than 1000 calories, especially with her exercise program. I can't convince her, she needs to vary her meals and not eat the same things because her body adjusts to this.
    1324 days ago
    I agree! Read my blog today. I talk about this very subject.
    I did not know that I could test my own A1c at home.
    Hospitals are such a racket. I have a poor quality insurance policy right now, and would pay over $50 for the test.
    1324 days ago
  • ERIN1957
    I find this all so interesting and appreciate how simply you presented it here. I hope others will see this and check into it.
    We have to be proactive in our own health. Before we end up with serious health issues.
    Thanks so much Birgit.
    1324 days ago
    this was a very good post. My husbands A1C was totally out of control when he moved in with me and I changed his diet. Of course it did get complicating for him because I was working with not only the diabetes end of it but also add the dialysis diet and the blood thinner diet to it. But I actually got his blood sugar to normal levels after many years of it being out of control. It takes time to learn it but if you are consistent and determined it can happen emoticon
    1324 days ago
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