Staying healthy; testing A1C

Created date

March 23rd, 2020

Q: I am 82 years old and very healthy. What can I do to stay that way?

A: There’s a good chance you may already be doing the types of things that will help you live a long and healthy life. Research has shown that possibly the most important strategy is to be physically active, as exercise seems to be the closest thing we have to an ideal medical treatment. You should strive for a balance of activities, including periods of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise, muscle-strengthening activities, and exercises that help improve your flexibility and balance. 

Another factor that has emerged as very important for healthy aging is socializing. Being with other people has been shown to boost physical and emotional health in older adults. Other important common-sense ways to stay healthy and independent are eating nutritious foods, getting plenty of sleep, and seeing your primary doctor regularly.  

Q: I was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and I measure my blood sugar on my home meter regularly. Why do I also need to have my A1C tested?

A: The A1C test, also called hemoglobin A1C, glycosylated hemoglobin, or glycated hemoglobin, is a test that measures your overall blood sugar control over the past two to three months. It gives you and your health care team an idea of how well your treatment plan is working. Generally speaking, in healthy people, an A1C should be less than 6%. In people with diabetes, keeping the A1C at less than 7% has been shown to help delay or prevent diabetes complications. 

Your health care provider and you can decide how often you need to have the A1C test, but usually you’ll have the test at least twice a year if you’re meeting your treatment goals. Remember, though, daily measurements are important, too, because they provide information about daily trends and patterns. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to manage your diabetes.