What is your HbA1c..?

Your HbA1c or (Hemoglobin A1c) is a blood test used to determine how well controlled your blood sugar levels have been in the past few months. When glucose enters the blood stream it binds to the hemoglobin (a part of the red blood cell), and this process is known as glycation. The more glucose that enters the blood stream, the more glycation will occur (ie. the more glucose is bound to your red blood cells).

The HbA1c test measures the average amount of Hemoglobin glycation, or put another way the average amount of glucose stuck to your red blood cells. As red blood cells only live for a few months before being replaced, the test is considered to be a reflection of how well controlled your blood sugars have been over this period.

What is a good HbA1c score..?

As with your blood glucose test results, a good HbA1c score can be relative to your health condition. But for someone fairly healthy with few other medical conditions or diabetic complications they should be really be as low as possible.

Below is a list of target HbA1c scores for normal, pre-diabetics and diabetics from the medical authorities in the UK; other countries may vary slightly. Adopting a more aggressive regime to lower your HbA1c to that of people without diabetes is recommended by some doctors and endocrinologists, though as mentioned above, depending on other conditions you may be suffering from this may not be possible. A lower HbA1c will however give you the best chance of avoiding long term complications and heart disease.

Note, the level specified for people without diabetes is below 5.6%. Many doctors will tell you that for people who provide a fasting blood sample and don’t have diabetes the result is nearly always much lower – between 4% and 5%.

 Standard Aggressive
mmol/mol%mmol/mol%
Normal< 38< 5.6< 38< 5.6
Prediabetes38 - 46 5.6 - 6.4< 38< 5.6
Diabetes> 47> 6.5< 38< 5.6

HbA1c and Blood Glucose Yo-yoing?

A Hb1AC of 5.6 is the equivalent to an average glucose score of 6.3 mmol/L (or 114 mg/dL). Remember this is an Average score. If your blood sugar level sits at 6.3 all day long every day then your golden.

But, if your blood glucose goes to 14 after a meal and then later that day you have a hypo and you blood sugar reading is 3.0 then you could still easily have an average blood glucose for the day of 6.3. The constant cycle of high and low blood glucose is often refered to as “yo-yoing”

If this happens every day, you could get a HbA1C score of 5.6 and think you have been doing great. But the highs and lows are hiding the true picture and giving you a HbA1c that no longer reflects your risk of long term complications and CVD. You need to avoid the highs and lows to get a true HbA1c. Remember it is the highs that cause most of the long term complications and the lows that present the immediate risk.

How to lower your HbA1c

There are many things you can do to help lower your HbA1c. The first is you need to clean up your diet, reduce carbs, eliminate junk food, sweets and cakes etc. There are no short cuts unfortunately. Read this article, 8 Ways To Lower Your HbA1c for a good guide to help you get started.

The units on the internet are different..!

Different countries give diabetes related measurements in different units. If you read an article that gives you a diabetes measurement that seems different to what you would expect then it may be stated in a different unit. So find out the units used in the article and the also units you use.

Use our HbA1c and Average Blood Glucose Unit Converter to convert values between the two most popular units for Blood glucose measurement – mmol/L used in the UK and mg/dL in the USA. We also provide a quick reference table below.

HbA1c
Average Blood Glucose

All calculated results above are rounded. Therefore doing the reverse calculation using another result may give a slightly different result

HbA1c
NGSP/DCCT (%)
HbA1c
IFCC (mmol/mol)
Average Blood Glucose
(mg/dL)
Average Blood Glucose
(mmol/L)
4.0 %20.2683.8
5.0 %31.1975.4
6.0 %42.11267.0
7.0 %53.01548.6
8.0 %63.918310.2
9.0 %74.921211.7
10.0 %85.824013.3
11.0 %96.726914.9
12.0 %107.729816.5
13.0 %118.632618.1