HbA1c stands for Hemoglobin A1c. The hemoglobin A1c test (also called H-b-A-one-c) is a simple blood test that shows the average amount of glucose (sugar) that has been in a person’s blood over the last 2-3 months. The hemoglobin A1c test shows if a person’s average blood glucose is close to normal or too high. It is the best test for a health care provider to tell if a person’s blood glucose is under appropriate control, whether you have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes. Sugar in the bloodstream can become attached to the hemoglobin molecule, the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen. This process is called glycosylation. Once the sugar is attached, it stays there for the life of the red blood cell, which is about 120 days. The HbA1c test measures the amount of glucose “sticking” to the hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Results are given in percentages (%). The HbA1c “big picture” complements the day to day “snapshots” obtained from the self-monitoring of blood glucose in individuals who are diabetic or who monitor their blood sugar with home testing. Everyone, regardless of whether they have diabetes, has some glucose attached to their red blood cells. A person without diabetes would typically have an HbA1c level below 5.6%. Those at high risk for diabetes (or who are prediabetic) show levels between 5.7 – 6.4%. A diagnosis of diabetes is confirmed with an HbA1c level above 6.5%. For an individual with diabetes, the treatment goal is to have an A1c level near or below 7%. An A1c result of 8% or higher is a sign that changes need to be made to better manage one’s glucose levels. It is critical that you share and review these results with your physician or medical care provider. Together, determine a strategy that is appropriate for you to maintain or improve these results, lowering your risk for diabetes and the complications which can arise from it.