An A1C test measures your average blood sugar over the past 90 days and monitors your diabetes. Excessively high A1C levels are dangerous to your health. If your diabetes is typically well-managed and you find out that your A1C is high, it’s critical to act right away to reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.
Board-certified internal medicine physician Prabhdeep Singh, MD, takes the utmost care in helping patients with diabetes manage their condition by keeping their blood glucose within a target range. Here’s what to know about A1C and what to do if you find out it’s high.
What is A1C?
Hemoglobin A1C levels play a significant role in diabetes management. It’s also used to detect diabetes and prediabetes. Your A1C is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the previous three months.
Your provider uses this number to assess how things are going and to determine whether and how to modify your diabetes treatment plan. It’s recommended that most people with diabetes aim for an A1C of less than 7%. Your provider may recommend a lower target of 6.5% or less, depending on your medical background.
Why is it important to lower a high A1C?
A1C targets are not chosen at random. The targets your provider recommends are based on clinical research and other factors such as your age, overall health, and risk of hypoglycemia.
Lowering A1C is linked to a reduction in diabetes-related complications. So, for every one point lower in A1C, you will significantly reduce your risk of serious problems such as nerve damage, eye disease, and kidney disease.
Tips for lowering A1C
Assuming that you’re sticking to a healthy eating plan and monitoring your carbohydrate intake, you can still do things if you find out that your A1C is high. Here are two powerful ways to reign in A1C.
If your goal is to lower your A1C, don’t overlook the power of physical activity. Exercise lowers A1C in a few ways. Physical activity makes your cells more sensitive to insulin. Additionally, when your muscles are active, the body uses glucose more efficiently. When you’re regularly active, this adds up to lower A1C.
If you haven't been active in a while, you may wonder where to begin. The first step is to consider what you might enjoy doing. Starting to walk is one of the best ways to get moving. All you need are some good sneakers. Cycling, swimming, using an exercise video, or attending a fitness class, are all excellent ways to stay active.
Make a plan and aim to exercise at least 150 minutes each week.
More than 90% of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, and excess weight is considered the greatest risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes. If you’re overweight and your A1C is high, shedding some pounds can have a powerful impact on lowering your A1C.
Prepare yourself for success. It's critical to be realistic because a slow, steady approach to weight loss (a pound or two a week, at most) produces the best results when it comes to keeping weight off.
Just a 5% decrease in total body weight can have a positive impact on A1C. For someone who weighs 190 pounds, that’s just 9.5 pounds. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need help losing weight. You’re more likely to lose weight and keep it off when you partner with a health professional.
Partner with a healthcare provider
If you find out that your A1C is high, you first should speak with a healthcare provider. Dr. Singh can help you get things back on track. For some people, diet and exercise aren’t enough to bring A1C down. When this is the case, Dr. Singh will discuss blood sugar-lowering medications, along with other strategies to get your A1C under control.
For expert guidance in managing diabetes and lowering your A1C, schedule a visit to discuss your concerns with Dr. Singh. Call our El Centro, California office, and a team member will assist in setting up an appointment. Another option is to book your request online.