We hear a lot about ‘knowing your numbers‘ when it comes to heart disease, but there’s another host of digits relating to diabetes.
“I would hope with all the attention being focused on diabetes as of late people are being more compliant with diabetes care. If they can improve their blood sugar control they can significantly reduce their risk of developing diabetes complications,” says Sharon Krispinski, certified diabetes educator with Lee Memorial Health System.
When people have type 1 diabetes, their body no longer makes insulin, which is a sugar-regulating hormone. In type 2 diabetes the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or is insulin resistant. Either way, diabetics need to monitor their sugars.
“We highly recommend that patients either write their blood sugars down or most of our meters today you can actually download your blood sugar,” says Krispinski.
Checking your blood glucose at home with a meter tells you what your blood sugar level is at any one time. But an A1C test measures how you’re doing overall.
“A1C test is a very important number for patients with diabetes to know. Actually a measurement of your blood sugar control over the past two to three months,” says Krispinski.
The A1C is a blood test used to diagnose diabetes and pre-diabetes. If someone already has the disease, it tells them how well blood sugar is monitored and whether their treatment plan is working.
“Ideally the A1C should be below 7%. And most endocrinologists like it approximately 6.5%,” says Krispinski.
So how does the A1C look backwards? Old red blood cells carry a memory- the amount of A1C can be measured for 120 days, the lifespan of a red blood cell.