Worried about diabetes? You should be, especially if you have a family history and/or poor diet! 8% of the population has diabetes, and it is one of the fastest growing “diseases”. Diabetes causes heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, blindness, and lower-limb amputation. If you’re not, you should be worried! Most people know that we should all go for annual doctor visits. As we get older, having you blood sugar tested should be one of the things on the doctor’s checklist. However, most doctors test fasting blood sugar. This test is ok, but only measure your blood sugar levels for that moment. It’s a short-term test. There is another test that is widely considered a better and more accurate measurement of your real blood sugar! (especially if you have or are at risk for diabetes) This test measures your long-term blood sugar. (what your average blood sugar levels have been for the previous 2-3 months)
So, what’s this test? Three letters… A1C. (ok, so it’s 2 letters and a number)
The A1C test is a common blood test used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes and then to gauge how well you’re managing your diabetes. The A1C test goes by many other names, including glycated hemoglobin, hemoglobin A1C and HbA1c. Usually, your doctor is probably checking both.
The A1C test result reflects your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. Specifically, the A1C test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin — a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen — is coated with sugar (glycated). The higher your A1C level, the poorer your blood sugar control. And if you have previously diagnosed diabetes, the higher the A1C level, the higher your risk of diabetes complications.
By no means should you disregard or think that a fasting blood sugar test is useless. However, it may be smart to pay as much if not more attention to your A1C levels.
Disclaimer: Remember folks, this is NOT medical advice and is NOT meant to take the place of anything your primary care physician advises. It’s simply an article to keep you educated, so that you can consult with your doctor on what is right for YOU.