Collection card and fingerprick blood collection devices for HbA1c Test

Prediabetic range for HbA1c

Medically reviewed on October 4, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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If you’re overweight (and have developed insulin resistance), have a family history of diabetes, and/or live a sedentary lifestyle, you may be at risk for prediabetes, the interim condition that can eventually develop into type 2 diabetes. [1]

Prediabetes is, in most cases, preventable. Diet, exercise, and healthy habits can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels. With that said, it’s extremely important to regularly test your blood sugar levels to monitor your risk for the disease.

That’s where the HbA1c test comes in. The blood test for HbA1c is a quick and easy procedure that can be conducted at home or in a healthcare provider’s office, and it will show your average blood sugar levels over the past three months.

In this guide, we’ll examine the differences between prediabetes and diabetes and how to interpret your HbA1c test results.

What is prediabetes?

The average fasting blood sugar level is around 99 mg/dL or lower. Once the fasting blood glucose level reaches 100 to 125 mg/dL, that can signify prediabetes. Prediabetes is a serious health condition that’s characterized by high blood sugar levels. While these blood sugar levels are higher than normal, they’re not high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

In other words, when you have prediabetes, your body cannot properly process sugar and clear it from the bloodstream after ingesting carbohydrates. That’s because your body doesn’t respond normally to insulin or has become desensitized to insulin. To compensate, your pancreas makes more insulin than needed, causing your blood glucose levels to rise. [2]

Prediabetes in children, adolescents, and adults can be influenced by genetics. Additionally, if you have family members who have type 2 diabetes, you may also be at a higher risk.

However, additional factors can also lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes, including:

  • Weight – Carrying extra weight is a risk factor if you have prediabetes, particularly if you’re overweight, have obesity, or have a BMI higher than 25.
  • Diet – Ingesting certain foods and beverages, such as sugary drinks and refined carbohydrates may lead to prediabetes. [3]
  • Age – The risk of developing prediabetes goes up after you turn 45. [4]
  • Race or ethnicity – Although scientists aren’t quite sure why, certain racial and ethnic groups are at higher risk of developing diabetes. These groups include Black, Hispanic, and American Indian people.
  • Smoking – In one study, scientists found a link between regular tobacco use and higher HbA1c results. [5]
  • Exercise – Not only can exercise help you regulate your weight, but daily low-intensity exercise has been shown to increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin. [6]

If you have prediabetes, you can significantly delay or prevent progression to type 2 diabetes by paying close attention to these risk factors. So, are you wondering how to lower HbA1c levels? A healthy diet, healthy weight, and plenty of physical activity can help bring your blood sugar back to normal levels.

Measuring your blood sugar levels

It is possible to measure and monitor your blood sugar levels with an HbA1c test, which is also sometimes known as the hemoglobin A1C test or glycated hemoglobin A1C test. Another method of testing blood sugar levels is the oral glucose tolerance test, in which you are required to drink a specific, high-carbohydrate beverage and then have your blood sugar levels tested two hours later.

When sugar enters the bloodstream, some of it attaches to hemoglobin. The higher your blood sugar levels, the more sugar on your hemoglobin.

That said, the HbA1c test measures the percentage of red blood cells that have sugar attached to your hemoglobin.

A normal HbA1C level is below 5.7%, while the pre-diabetic range for HbA1c is between 5.7–6.4%. If the HbA1c is any higher than that indicates that a person has diabetes. [7]

It’s important to understand that a lower percentage for HbA1c is always better. The closer your percentage is to 6.5%, the higher your risk is for developing type 2 diabetes.

Also, understand that your result from an HbA1c test is not equivalent to the number you may get from a blood glucometer. Glucometers determine your blood sugar level at a given moment, which can vary widely depending on factors such as: [8]

  • When you last ate
  • What you last ate
  • Whether you’ve exercised recently
  • Dehydration
  • Illness or infection

n HbA1c test shows your average blood sugar levels over the last 3 months, which is about how long red blood cells live for.

How HbA1c Testing Works

You can go into a clinic to undergo an HbA1c test. During this process, a healthcare provider will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, which will be collected in a test tube or vial. Typically, it’ll take no more than 5 minutes to complete. [9]

You can also measure your blood sugar levels at home with a home-collection HbA1c blood test.

With an at-home test, you can measure your average blood sugar levels over the past 90 days with a simple self-administered finger prick. You’ll then mail the blood sample to a certified lab. Within days, you’ll be able to access your healthcare provider-reviewed digital results and useful insights, particularly when using a test from Everlywell.

Monitor your blood sugar levels with Everlywell

If you’re above the age of 45, experiencing weight gain, or living a sedentary lifestyle, testing your blood sugar levels regularly can help you monitor for risks of prediabetes and diabetes.

With the Everlywell HbA1c Test, it’s simple to monitor your health in the comfort of your home.

After a quick finger prick and a trip to the post office, our CLIA-certified labs will test your sample for elevated hemoglobin sugar levels over the past 90 days. The results are then healthcare provider-reviewed and delivered to your device via our secure, HIPPA-compliant app.

From there, you can read health insights, a personalized report, and recommended next steps based on your HbA1c results.

Understand your risk levels and stay on top of your health with Everlywell.

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  1. Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Published March 6, 2019. URL. Accessed September 30, 2022.
  2. Prediabetes - Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published February 22, 2019. URL. Accessed September 30, 2022.
  3. Prediabetes - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Published 2017. URL. Accessed September 30, 2022.
  4. Soulimane S, Simon D, Herman WH, et al. HbA1c, fasting and 2 h plasma glucose in current, ex- and never-smokers: a meta-analysis. Diabetologia. 2014;57(1):30-39. doi:10.1007/s00125-013-3058-y. Accessed September 30, 2022.
  5. Get Active! Published 2019. URL. Accessed September 30, 2022.
  6. Bae JC, Rhee EJ, Lee WY, et al. Optimal range of HbA1c for the prediction of future diabetes: A 4-year longitudinal study. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 2011;93(2):255-259. doi:10.1016/j.diabres.2011.05.028. Accessed September 30, 2022.
  7. American Diabetes Association. Good to Know: Factors Affecting Blood Glucose. Clinical Diabetes. 2018;36(2):202-202. doi:10.2337/cd18-0012. Accessed September 30, 2022.
  8. Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information. Published 2018. URL. Accessed September 30, 2022.
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