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A1c Test

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Updated April 22, 2014

Definition: The A1c test (also known as HbA1c, glycated hemoglobin or glycosylated hemoglobin) is a blood test that correlates with a person’s average blood glucose level over a span of a few months.

The A1c test measures how much glucose is stuck to your hemoglobin, or more specifically, what percent of hemoglobin proteins are attached to glucose. So if you have a 7% A1c, that means that 7% of your hemoglobin proteins are glycated.

Once glucose sticks to a hemoglobin protein, it stays there for the lifespan of the hemoglobin protein, or for about 120 days. That's why, at any moment, the glucose attached to your hemoglobin A protein reflects the level of your blood sugar over two to three months.

For a person without diabetes, a typical A1c level is about 5%. If you have diabetes, it's recommended, by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), that a level of 6.5% or below should be your target goal. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests a goal of 7% or lower.

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