HEMOGLOBIN A1c (pronounced hee-muh-gloh-bin A-1-C) is a very useful measure of blood sugar (glucose). It tells us if the blood sugar has been elevated, and to what degree, over a 2-3 month window.

The outer membrane of a red blood cell allows glucose to enter and exit easily. Some glucose attaches itself to the hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to every other cell in the body). When glucose attaches, it doesn’t come off; it stays until the hemoglobin is recycled.

If your blood sugar is high, you’ll have more glucose attached to more hemoglobin because it can easily gain access. The higher the amount of glucose attached to hemoglobin, the higher the so-called hemoglobin A1c!

*Normal Hemoglobin A1c (Hgb A1c) is ~5.9-6.0 or below (depending on the laboratory doing the test)

If your Hgb A1c is 8.5 that means that for the last 2-3 months, your blood sugar has been elevated (probably around 200-250).

For people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the recommended goal Hgb A1c is <7.0. This number is chosen because the studies show less adverse consequences (like serious eye and kidney problems) when the number is at or below this. LOWER IS BETTER! (in most cases)

-If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, know what your Hgb A1c number is and ask your doctor what strategies you should take to bring it to goal, if you’re not already there.