What Is a Harmful Stage of A1c?

A glycated hemoglobin A1c check (HbA1c), or A1c check for brief, is a blood check that tells you your common blood glucose ranges over the earlier 2-3 months. 

It is a commonplace check that folks with diabetes routinely get to evaluate the general administration of their blood sugar ranges and to course-correct remedy plans. 

However what’s a harmful degree of A1c? This text will examine A1c ranges which can be thought-about each too low and too excessive, and what to do about enhancing yours whether it is at a harmful degree. 

What Is a Harmful Stage of A1c?

What’s an A1c? 

An A1c is a blood check that’s sometimes taken in a laboratory and measures the hemoglobin in your blood. 

Hemoglobin is a protein present in your crimson blood cells and provides blood its crimson coloration. It carries oxygen all through your physique and is essential for good well being. 

This check measures the common quantity of blood glucose hooked up to the hemoglobin in your crimson blood cells over the previous few months. Crimson blood cells regenerate each 3 months, which is why the check will solely present your common blood glucose degree for the earlier 2-3 months. 

It’s often skewed towards the previous a number of weeks earlier than a check. 

What’s the significance of an A1c? 

An A1c check helps diagnose diabetes

The A1c is a vital software for diagnosing sort 1 and sort 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and even typically gestational diabetes.

In case your outcomes reveal prediabetes, your physician will in all probability suggest that you just get a repeat A1c check achieved yearly or semi-annually. Moreover, for folks 45 and older, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) suggest an A1c check each 3 years. 

In case you have prediabetes, it is best to speak together with your physician about steps you’ll be able to take to scale back your danger of creating diabetes. 

Your physician could suggest you get an A1c check if you happen to’re underneath the age of 45 however have sure danger elements for diabetes, together with: 

  • Being obese or overweight
  • Having a household historical past of diabetes
  • Having hypertension (hypertension)
  • Beforehand had gestational diabetes 
  • Are an ethnic minority 
  • Having coronary heart illness
  • Reside a sedentary way of life/bodily inactivity 

It is best to name your physician immediately if you happen to expertise the next signs, as they’re indicators of diabetes: 

Your physician could suggest you get an A1c check or search emergency medical care, relying on the severity of your signs.

You can too check your A1c at house with a check package you should buy at your native pharmacy or on-line.

An A1c check determines common diabetes management 

For folks with present diabetes, a quarterly A1c check is often ordered to find out your common blood sugar ranges, and common diabetes management, over the earlier 3 months. 

A1c assessments are nice at detecting in case your blood sugars are constantly working excessive or low, and might help you alter your diabetes therapies to assist stop problems similar to coronary heart illness, retinopathy, neuropathy, kidney illness, and untimely loss of life.

Nevertheless, since an A1c check is merely a median of your earlier 3 months’ blood sugar ranges, it would common out all the excessive blood sugar ranges with all the low blood sugar ranges. This could probably provide you with a false sense of accomplishment if, in reality, you’re simply driving the blood sugar rollercoaster most days! 

If, nonetheless, your blood sugar ranges are reasonably secure, it can provide you a terrific sense of how properly you’re managing to maintain your blood sugars in vary. 

What are the totally different A1c ranges? 

The American Diabetes Affiliation makes use of the next definition to find out when you have diabetes or prediabetes:

  • Regular, no diabetes: A1c under 5.7%
  • Prediabetes: A1c between 5.7% and 6.4%
  • Diabetes: A1c of 6.5% or larger 

Particular person A1c objective ranges will range by individual. For instance, for somebody who doesn’t detect their low blood sugars, or for somebody with diabetes who lives alone, their physician could suggest a barely larger A1c. 

Alternatively, for somebody with present diabetes who’s pregnant, an A1c of or under 6% is good, so long as they’re not experiencing too many low blood sugars. 

American Diabetes Affiliation  (ADA) advises A1c ranges to remain under 7% to assist stop diabetes problems for adults, and under 7.5% for kids. 

What’s a harmful A1c degree? 

There are risks to having each a too-high and a too-low A1c degree. At all times work together with your physician to see what A1c degree ought to be your objective, relying in your way of life, well being objectives, and life stage. Nevertheless, some harmful ranges can be greatest to keep away from.

An A1c decrease than 5% 

Whereas diabetes administration is turning into extra exact with sooner insulins, closed-loop insulin pumps, steady glucose monitoring (CGM) techniques, and higher entry to diabetes self-management schooling (DSME), folks with diabetes are reaching decrease A1cs than ever earlier than. 

It is a nice accomplishment if you happen to’re not experiencing too many low blood sugars. 

Keep in mind, an A1c is simply a median blood sugar of the earlier three months, so in case your A1c is decrease than 5%, that could be an indicator that you just’re having too many lows. 

Even if you happen to’re not experiencing extreme low blood sugar that always if you happen to’re older, stay alone, have hassle detecting your low blood sugars (have hypo-unawareness), or don’t have a steady glucose monitor (CGM) with low alerts set on, it may be harmful to have an A1c that low. 

A 5% A1c signifies that your common blood sugar is barely 97 mg/dL. 

Because of this even a average stroll or scorching bathe may ship your blood sugar plummeting at any minute, which may be dangerous. 

Low blood sugars can result in extreme diabetes problems, together with diabetic coma and loss of life, so it’s essential that you just stop extreme low blood sugars and have fast-acting glucose or glucagon obtainable in case of an emergency. 

If you happen to stay alone, are older, have hypo-unawareness, don’t have a CGM, or are merely experiencing too many lows, speak together with your physician about decreasing your insulin doses to assist stop harmful lows and enhance your A1c. 

To notice: Pregnant girls could have an A1c underneath 5%, and in the event that they’re not experiencing many low blood sugar ranges, this can be high quality. 

Moreover, originally of a kind 1 diabetes analysis, many individuals expertise what is called the “honeymoon section” the place their pancreas continues to be emitting some insulin, and so they could have a particularly low A1c for the primary a number of months to a 12 months after analysis. 

That is regular, however if you happen to’re within the honeymoon section with too many low blood sugars, speak together with your physician. 

An A1c larger than 7% 

Whereas the ADA recommends that almost all adults preserve an A1c of seven% or decrease (and kids preserve an A1c of seven.5% or decrease), this isn’t at all times potential. 

Competing priorities, cash, time, power, hormones, jobs, college, stress, and on a regular basis life make managing diabetes actually arduous, and typically we wrestle with higher-than-ideal blood sugar ranges and that’s okay! 

An A1c is 7% is a median blood sugar degree of 154 mg/dL and an A1c 0f 7.5% is a median blood sugar degree of 169 mg/dL, each of that are affordable numbers (particularly if you happen to’re a toddler who’s wont to not at all times end meals or an grownup who struggles to detect harmful low blood sugars). 

Most occasions, particularly throughout busy or tense occasions of life, an A1c of between 7-8% will not be harmful and received’t pose any issues on your well being. 

An A1c larger than 9% 

Nevertheless, numbers a lot larger than 9% can begin to put you in danger for diabetes problems in a while in life. 

In response to the American Diabetes Affiliation’s Requirements of Medical Care in Diabetes, 2022, an A1c of 9% places one at a better danger for blindness, coronary heart assault, nerve injury, and kidney failure. 

An A1c is 9% is the same as a median blood sugar degree of 212 mg/dL. 

The upper your A1c, the extra harmful it’s and the extra probably you might be to endure from diabetes problems. 

The next are A1c ranges to common blood sugar ranges: 

10 % = 240 mg/dL

11% = 269 mg/dL

12% = 298 mg/dL

13% = 326 mg/dL

14% = 355 mg/dL 

For extra detailed data, learn Easy methods to Translate Your A1c to a Blood Sugar Stage.

Extended excessive blood sugars over time can result in extreme diabetes problems, similar to retinopathy, neuropathy, coronary heart illness, kidney illness, lower-limb amputations, stroke, and even untimely loss of life. 

If you happen to’re struggling to decrease your A1c, speak to your physician about rising or altering your treatment routine, weight loss program, bodily exercise degree, addressing any psychological well being points, or in the event that they recommend different methods that will help you higher handle your blood sugar ranges. 

To notice: at analysis, particularly with sort 1 diabetes, an individual will sometimes have a particularly elevated A1c degree. 

This doesn’t mechanically imply that you’ll endure long-term diabetes problems. Often, after a couple of months of insulin remedy and remedy, A1c ranges drop extraordinarily shortly and there’s no danger of significant future problems. 

Methods to make your A1c safer 

There are methods to each enhance and reduce your A1c if you happen to’re falling into the hazard zone. 

In case your A1c is simply too low 

  • Work together with your physician to lower your medicines and/or insulin
  • Lower the quantity of train you do, if you happen to’re battling lows after bodily exercise
  • Improve the quantity of protein and fats in your weight loss program to assist stop low blood sugars in a single day
  • If you happen to don’t have already got one, use a CGM to catch low blood sugar ranges earlier than they grow to be harmful
  • Make the most of an insulin pump and use short-term basal settings for issues like train and different bodily exercise to assist stop low blood sugars 

In case your A1c is simply too excessive 

  • Work together with your physician to extend your medicines and/or insulin 
  • Improve the quantity of bodily exercise you do every day
  • Eat decrease carbohydrate meals and eat loads of complete meals with fiber
  • If you happen to wrestle with counting carbohydrates, begin a meals journal and work with a registered dietitian (RD) that will help you meal plan 
  • Keep away from processed meals and meals and drinks with added sugar 
  • Verify your blood sugar a number of occasions a day, or make the most of a CGM to assist catch excessive blood sugars sooner
  • Make the most of an insulin pump that may use totally different basal charges all through the day and night time to assist stop extended excessive blood sugars 
  • Get loads of sleep (purpose for between 7-9 hours per night time for higher insulin sensitivity) 
  • Handle stress with yoga, meditation, and respiratory to lower insulin resistance 


Whereas there may be a number of speak in regards to the risks of a excessive A1c, there isn’t a lot speak in regards to the risks of a low A1c, and there’s a lot of confusion as to what’s really harmful and what to do about it. 

For most individuals, an excellent and protected A1c lies anyplace between 5-8%, though this can range from individual to individual. 

If you happen to’re pregnant, your A1c ought to be decrease, and if you happen to stay alone or wrestle with low blood sugars, your physician might want your A1c on the upper finish. 

Nevertheless, an A1c that’s routinely underneath 5% can pose a hazard of too many and too extreme low blood sugars, which may trigger diabetic coma and loss of life. 

An A1c of 9% or above will increase your danger for diabetes problems, together with coronary heart illness and coronary heart assault, stroke, retinopathy and blindness, nerve injury and amputation, kidney illness and kidney failure, and in the end, untimely loss of life. 

Work together with your physician to regulate your medicines, enhance or lower your bodily exercise, alter your weight loss program, and higher regulate sleep and stress that will help you land your objective A1c. 

Whereas there isn’t any “good” A1c, nobody ought to need to stay with an A1c at a harmful degree that’s dangerous to at least one’s well being and well-being.  

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