Friday, April 18, 2008

What's an A1c?

In my last post I included a reference to my A1c test results. I realized that unless you have diabetes you probably have no idea what I'm talking about, so here goes.

A1c is short for glychohemoglobin A1c test. It’s a blood test that can tell you what percentage of red blood cells have glucose bound to them at any given time. The test gives a result for about 12 weeks worth of glucose levels and is a reasonable review of how well- or badly-controlled your diabetes is. Non-diabetics will range between 4% and 6%. You're considered to have good control if it's under 7%. The lower it is, the less likely you are to suffer from the many lovely complications diabetes has to offer.

Generally, it’s not used for diagnosing diabetes, but they take it after you’re diagnosed, as a baseline. Mine was 9.7% when I was diagnosed, which still wasn’t as awful as some people when they’re first diagnosed, but it wasn’t good. For a diagnosis of diabetes, I believe a fasting blood sugar above 126 mg/dL gets you into the club for life.

16 comments:

Seanna Lea said...

This might be a dumb question...

Is Type 2 diabetes something that goes away with proper diet and exercise or will you always be considered diabetic?

TMK said...

Seanna Lea: That's a damn good question. The answer is, "I don't know." I've read/heard that typically in Type 2s who have gastric bypass, the blood sugar levels come down within normal range and the diabetes can be managed with exercise and diet. I don't know if they're ever taken off the list of known diabetics. It will be interesting to see where I am six months from now as I have had weight loss similar to a gastric bypass patient, but without the expensive surgery and tiny stomach.

Marianne said...

My mother is Type 2, and it runs in the family, her side, she's lost 3 brothers to complications.. and yet, although she takes meds, not injecting insulin, her diet is horrible and there's just no telling her to quit the sweets. never mind the exercise, due to 'not using it' she has a hard time getting around.. on the other hand she is still quite able to live on her own, at 75.
When she's no longer able to she'll most likely live with us, she'll also be eating what we eat :^)
I mean, I'm REALLY glad you're doing this, I have more than just a little interest.

Kristen said...

Bravo, TMK! (Popping over from Ryan's blog.) I'm also Type 2. I've been struggling with it for almost four years now, so I understand completely. My A1Cs have all been under 6.5 over the past year, so I'm doing much better, but have a long way to go.

Seanna Lea & TMK: What I was told is that if you lose your excess weight and get your exercise and diet managed to the point where you can go off medications, they consider that you are "in remission." Theoretically you can stay in remission for a long time, but the diabetes can get cranky again so you have to monitor it closely. I'm hoping to get to the point of being "in remission," but I accept that it may not happen.

Joan K said...

Congrats on the weight loss. I had a gastric bypass. I was told that if the diabetes was not long-standing (less than 5 years) it would possible reverse. That happened to me. My metabolism is still quick to metabolize but my blood sugars are normal.

They do A1C tests on me regularly and so far they've been OK.

My wife also had a gastric bypass and had similar results.

Linda 'K' said...

Bravo on the blog! A compassionate and helpful thing to do. I'll be quoting it to himself.

BTW - the newest in the No. 1 Ladies Dective Series izzout!

Norma said...

Heyahhhhhh! You didn't tell me. I'm hurt. Pout. :D

I'll be subscribing and reading. Go you! I'm heading out to the garden for some (Tabata?) shoveling now.

visionsister said...

Welcome to blogland, TMK! Thanks for posting your experience. I don't know much about diabetes, but there's a history of it in my husband's family. The more you know...

Betty said...

Good content! Good format! "It's gentle and I look forward to more" says Mom.

I am inspired by your success. Thanks so much for sharing.

Charlotte said...

I'm in awe of your weight loss. I, too, am a Type 2 diabetic and on oral medication. For the last three months my blood sugar levels have been much better and I'm anxious to know what my current
A1c will be when I see the doctor on Tuesday. I struggle with trying to lose weight -- need to lose a BUNCH -- and am exercise impaired due to arthritis (and lazyness if truth be known).

~Donna~ said...

Hi TMK! Thanks for starting up this blog...I am pre-diabetic and struggling with weight loss. I know I need to get busy and work harder, but that's alot easier said than done. You are an inspiration and I look forward to reading more of your adventures. THanks!!!

Anonymous said...

I just came over from a visit at Mossy Cottage to say hi and congratulate you on such a great turnaround. I really believe that within an active lifestyle food can go a long way to being your pharmacy. I've reversed a bunch of conditions I was told were permanent with better and more careful eating!

Kathleen C. said...

My DH was diagnosed with diabetes last Fall (it runs in his family). He is not exactly responding as well as I wish he would to doctor's orders. He has yet to use the fingerstick test kits (do you have to do them?), he's been slow to alter his diet and is only now adding some exersize.
In point of fact... he's pissed off about it and would appreciate it very much if it would just go away now.
I thank you for sharing your journey... I feel like the more I learn, the more I can help him.
And if I'm totally honest... diabetes also runs in my family, and I am overweight with a terrible diet. So though my blood sugar levels may be good today (and they are) maybe I could use some help and inspiration too.

Anonymous said...

TMK:
I am a long time reader/lurker of Mossy Cottage, and I am very glad to see your blog, becase I know it the topic will be of great interest to me! Both my husband and I are 'Prediabetic", so are trying to make changes to improve or health. Like some other posters, I wold be very intersted in reading about your current diet and exercise program.
congrats on sch great results and keep up the good work!
Pat in Virginia

Rebecca said...

You go, Girl. The best journeys are the ones we choose to make. I'm mighty impressed with your results ~ it's a way better program than mine and your results will no doubt last longer as well. Thanks for blogging about your trip. You'll probably help people you don't even know and get to know people you never would have otherwise. This interwebs thing ~ it's a connector.

Seanna Lea said...

Thank you. I really hope that the exercise and diet work to allow you to go into remission.