Every three to six months we have our A1C measured…but what does that number really mean? You know it’s a measure of your average blood sugar reading, but when was the last time your blood glucose monitor gave you a percentage? Your A1C is essentially a measurement of the Advanced Glycogenated End-products that have accumulated in your blood from blood sugar levels…the higher our blood sugars are, the more AGEs are present in our blood. These AGEs are also what lead to various complications we’re warned about: nerve damage, retinopathy, etc.
So, as usual, our goal is to reduce our A1C which will reduce our AGEs, and we do this by controlling our blood sugars better. It’s important to look deeper into your A1C so you can translate that number to the numbers you see on your monitor. When we think about what that number means as a blood sugar reading, it’s much more real for our day-to-day life with diabetes.
This is your eAG= Estimated Average Glucose.
So what does it mean to you when your doctor says your A1C is 8%? An A1C of 8% means your eAG is 183, which means your blood sugars run usually between 147 to 217.
My last A1C was 7.0%. This means my blood sugars run between 123 to 185 on average through the day, with a median of 154. The lowest A1C I’ve ever had was 6.2% and the highest I’ve had was about 6 ago when I started college, at 8.4%.
Here’s a chart for your A1C readings translated to your eAG:
12% = 298 (240 – 347)
11% = 269 (217 – 314)
10% = 240 (193 – 282)
9% = 212 (170 –249)
8% = 183 (147 – 217)
7% = 154 (123 – 185)
6% = 126 ( 100 – 152)
So, if your A1C is 11%, your average glucose reading is 269, which means ninty-five percent of the day your blood sugar is somewhere between 217 to 314. Here’s an article for your reference.
Numbers like those makes it much more difficult to ignore that 11%! We all know we can’t be feeling very well or be treating our bodies very well if our blood sugars are between 200 and 300 every day. That stress on our body and the continual accumulation of the AGEs I meantioned earlier, will take their toll over time.
There have been times in my life when I was surprised that my A1C was as high as it was, and there were other times when I knew it was a direct result of how well or how poorly I was managing my blood sugars.
Either way, it’s information. Don’t let your number make you feel guilty if it’s too high. Use it as information and set a goal for yourself to decrease it as much as you can at your next appointment.
If your A1C has been higher than you’d like lately, take a closer look at your blood sugars throughout the day, try to check more often, and think about increasing your basal rates on your pump or your long-acting insulin dose. Even an increase of an extra two to three units over the coarse of one day can have a huge impact and really help you stay in range.
Like I said earlier, at different points in my life my A1C has been awesome, below 6.5%, and when life got a little crazy, like my first year in college, it was up in the 8% range! Everything is temporary. If you’re willing to make an effort, learn more about your disease and consider yourself a lifelong work-in-progres, you wil see the results!