What you need to know about the prediabetes A1C test
A1C is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels. It’s also known as hemoglobin A1C, HbA1C test, or glycated hemoglobin test.
It’s expressed as a percentage that healthcare professionals use to diagnose and monitor diabetes. But they can also use it to detect prediabetes. The condition’s characteristics are elevated blood sugar levels that exceed the normal range but do not meet the diagnostic criteria for type 2 diabetes.
The test can measure your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months.
When your A1C range is high, you are at a greater risk of developing complications related to diabetes, such as:
- heart disease
- kidney damage
- nerve damage
Prediabetes can often lead to diabetes with no obvious symptoms. The A1C test can help identify and manage symptoms and prevent them from progressing to diabetes.
Treatment for prediabetes involves lifestyle measures that can help lower blood sugar levels, such as:
Healthcare professionals might also prescribe medications like metformin (Riomet).
What is a normal range of A1C?
For people with prediabetes, an A1C level of 5.7%–6.4% is high, putting them at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But A1C levels below 5.7% are typically healthy and suggest that blood sugar levels are within the normal range.
New research notes that maintaining a healthy A1C level can help reduce the risk of developing long-term complications associated with diabetes. This includes microvascular complications (which affect small blood vessels) that can cause coronary artery disease or stroke.
What is a dangerous range of A1C?
An elevated A1C level indicates that blood sugar levels have been consistently high for the past 3 months, which can lead to serious health complications.
It also increases the risk of developing long-term complications associated with diabetes, such as:
- vision loss
- nerve damage
- cardiovascular disease
A 2015 study notes that people with an A1C level of 6.5% or higher have a significantly increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Typically, the danger of high A1C levels depends on several factors, such as:
- overall health status
- family history, as type 2 diabetes can sometimes be hereditary
Consider talking with a healthcare professional to determine a target A1C level appropriate to your needs.
Free prescription coupons
Seriously … free. Explore prices that beat the competition 70% of the time.Get free card
Can prediabetes go away?
Managing prediabetes involves taking lifestyle measures to lower your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Here are some ways to help manage prediabetes.
Losing weight can improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. Even weight loss between 5%–10% can significantly improve blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Consider speaking with a healthcare professional about whether weight loss would be right for you.
Eating a healthy diet that is low in saturated and trans fats, but high in fiber and whole grains can help lower your blood sugar levels. Avoid sugary and processed foods and opt for whole, nutrient-dense foods, such as:
- fish high in omega-3 fatty acids
- leafy green vegetables
Regular physical activity can improve insulin sensitivity, which allows the body to regulate blood sugar levels better and improve overall health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity weekly physical activity.
Smoking increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you’re smoking, consider quitting to help reduce this risk.
Managing stress levels
Stress can cause your blood sugar levels to rise, so managing stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga can help reduce cortisol levels and improve blood sugar management.
In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medication to help manage your blood sugar levels. One of the most commonly prescribed medications is metformin, which helps lower blood sugar levels by decreasing the amount of glucose produced by the liver.
Managing prediabetes requires a combination of lifestyle measures and, in some cases, medication.
Consider speaking with a healthcare professional to develop a personalized plan to manage your prediabetes and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Prediabetes is a condition characterized by elevated blood sugar levels that exceed a normal range yet do not meet the diagnostic criteria for type 2 diabetes.
One of the primary ways to diagnose and manage prediabetes is by measuring A1C levels.
Consider talking with a healthcare professional to determine an appropriate target A1C level based on your health factors.
Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.
- About metformin. (2022). https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/metformin/about-metformin/
- All about your A1C. (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/managing-blood-sugar/a1c.html
- Goto A, et al. (2015). Hemoglobin A1C levels and the risk of cardiovascular disease in people without known diabetes: A population-based cohort study in Japan. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4603057/
- Healthy weight. (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/healthy-weight.html
- How much physical activity do adults need? (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm
- Prediabetes – Your chance to prevent type 2 diabetes. (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html
- Prentice JC, et al. (2021). Increased hemoglobin A1C time in range reduces adverse health outcomes in older adults with diabetes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8385473/
- Prevent diabetes complications. (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/problems.html
- Sinha SS, et al. (2018). Effect of 6 months of meditation on blood sugar, glycosylated hemoglobin, and insulin levels in patients of coronary artery disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5934947/
- Smoking and diabetes. (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/diabetes.html
- The A1C test & diabetes. (2018). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/a1c-test