Apr. 17, 2018
If you’ve had a healthcare appointment lately, you may have heard your healthcare provider mention your “A1C level”. So, what’s that mean, exactly?
A1C gives an estimate of your average blood sugar for the past three months. While your meter gives you an in-the-moment picture, this test gives a long-term overview. Specifically, it works by measuring how much sugar is attached to your red blood cells.2
What do my lab results mean?
A1C can be measured using a drop of blood from your fingertip, or a blood draw. This test is one of the standard recommended ways to diagnose diabetes, and is usually tested every 3-6 months. Most insurance companies cover at least two tests per year if you get your test done through your healthcare provider; you can also buy an at-home test kit from your local drugstore.3
When looking at your lab results, look for “Hemoglobin A1C” or “HbA1c” (sometimes it is also called “glycated hemoglobin”).4
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Standards of Care, an A1C greater than 6.4% indicates diabetes.1 An A1C between 5.7% and 6.4% indicates an increased risk of developing diabetes, or “prediabetes” as your healthcare provider may say.1
How does that affect my health?
Having a high A1C could mean that you’ve had high blood sugars for the past three months. Having high blood sugars over an extended period of time deteriorates blood vessels and nerves. This damage to blood vessels and nerves can put you at risk for heart attacks and strokes, damage to organs like the kidneys, reduced energy, and slower healing from infections.2
The ADA says that for people with diabetes (who aren’t pregnant) who are managing blood sugars with oral medications or insulin, a reasonable goal is to have an A1C of less than 7%.1 Some healthcare providers may suggest a higher or lower goal based on your individual medical history.
Is it an accurate picture of my blood sugar?
The ADA has a conversion calculator where you can enter your most recent A1C and it will estimate what your average blood sugar level has been over the last three months. However, this is best used in combination with the blood sugar results on your meter because the A1C test is not perfect. Two individuals with similar blood sugar levels over the last three months could get two different A1C results, since age, rage/ethnicity, and having low iron levels (anemia) can all affect the results. For example, an A1C of 9 could indicate an average blood sugar level measured on a meter anywhere from 170 to 249.5
Secondly, since A1C only gives a 3-month average, it doesn’t show how much of a roller coaster your blood sugar has been on in between meals, and the amount of time out of range of your minimum and maximum blood sugar levels your body has had to endure.
Ideally, an A1C measurement can be used in combination with the blood sugar results on your meter to give you and your healthcare provider a real-life picture of your diabetes.
 American Diabetes Association. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2018. Diabetes Care 2018 Jan; vol41 (Supplement 1): S1 -S2. doi: 10.2337/dc18-S004.
 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The A1C Test & Diabetes. Site: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/tests-diagnosis/a1c-test accessed 4/11/18
 Bunker, Katie. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Forecast website. http://www.diabetesforecast.or... Pub 4/2009, accessed 4/11/18
 WebMD. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) Test for Diabetes. WebMD website. https://www.webmd.com/diabetes... Pub 4/2009, accessed 3/31/18
 Diabetes Care. Translating the A1c Assay Into Estimated Average Glucose Values. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2742903/ accessed 4/3/18
Afrezza can cause serious side effects, including: Sudden lung problems (bronchospasms). Do not use Afrezza if you have long-term (chronic) lung problems such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Before starting Afrezza, your healthcare provider will give you a breathing test to check how your lungs are working.
What is the most important information I should know about Afrezza? Afrezza can cause serious side effects, including: Sudden lung problems (bronchospasms). Do not use Afrezza if you have long-term (chronic) lung problems such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Afrezza can cause serious side effects, including:
Sudden lung problems (bronchospasms). Do not use Afrezza if you have long-term (chronic) lung problems such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Before starting Afrezza, your healthcare provider will give you a breathing test to check how your lungs are working.
Do not use Afrezza if you:
Before using Afrezza, tell your healthcare provider about all your medical conditions, including if you:
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins or herbal supplements.
Before you start using Afrezza, talk to your healthcare provider about low blood sugar and how to manage it.
While using Afrezza do not:
Afrezza may cause serious side effects that can lead to death, including:
See “What is the most important information I should know about Afrezza?” at the top of this page.
Treatment with TZDs and Afrezza may need to be changed or stopped by your healthcare provider if you have new or worse heart failure.
Get emergency medical help if you have:
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The most common side effects of Afrezza include:
These are not all the possible side effects of Afrezza. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088).
Active ingredient: human insulin
Inactive ingredients: fumaryl diketopiperazine, polysorbate 80
General information about the safe and effective use of Afrezza.
Medicines are sometimes prescribed for purposes other than those listed in a Medication Guide. Do not use Afrezza for a condition for which it was not prescribed. Do not give Afrezza to other people, even if they have the same symptoms that you have. It may harm them.
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