“The Hemoglobin A1C: Yes, That’s the Test for Me!”
(Sung to the tune of the “B-I-B-L-E”)
It’s May, 2016. Have you had a complete health physical in the past 12 months? I don’t mean a sick visit to your doctor, or a chiropractic treatment session. I mean a top-to-bottom, front-to-back examination, including an EKG (heart exam), a BMI assessment (body weight vs. health risk), and a complete panel of blood work? If the answer is “no”, then read no further. Get up, go to the phone, and schedule that appointment—I’ll wait.
Okay, so if you’re back now (or if you never left because you did have your annual physical sometime this past year), let me ask a second question. Did your blood work include a Hemoglobin A1C Test, or just the standard fasting glucose test?
The fasting glucose test has long been recommended by the American Medical Association to determine whether you have trouble controlling your blood sugar. If your fasting glucose level has proven to be high (>99 mg/dl) then you have either pre-diabetes (between 100 and 125 mg/dl) or diabetes (>125 mg/dl). At this point, you are either ankle-deep or knee-deep in metabolic disease.
Newer on the scene is the Hemoglobin A1C Test. Still used primarily to determine how well diabetics are controlling their (out-of-control) blood sugar, the A1C Test has been recently gaining popularity among doctors as a pre-pre-diabetes test. By this I mean it has the capacity to see the “train” of pre- or full-blown diabetes coming, long before it reaches the “station of disease”—while there’s still time to re-route it in a healthier direction!
This advantage comes from its ability to calculate how well your blood sugar has been regulated, 24 hours a day for the past three months. Considering the diabetes epidemic that’s raging nationwide (1 in 2 adults over the age of 20 have either pre-diabetes or diabetes), it’s just a matter of time before the AMA endorses it as a standard blood test. Until then, please ask for it by name the next time you are in for a checkup. By keeping you’re A1C reading under 6.0%, you can steer clear of the blood sugar monster that’s poised to eat up your health!