Jul 14, 2022 The Simple Blood Test Every Adult Needs

Woman taking blood glucose test

Keep tabs on your glucose levels — and learn what to do if they're too high.

The A1C test is a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past three months. It doesn’t require fasting and is one of the most commonly used tests to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes.

Every adult over the age of 45 should have an A1C test. You may need it if you’re under age 45 but have risk factors for prediabetes or diabetes, such as being overweight or having a sibling or parent with Type 2 diabetes.

If your A1C is between 5.7 and 6.4, prediabetes is indicated. If your level is 6.5 or higher, it’s likely that you have diabetes.

“If your A1C is high, the best way to lower it is to do blood glucose testing at home to learn how food, exercise and your medicine are affecting your numbers,” says Lauren Bernstein, MS, RD, a Certified Diabetes Educator at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Rahway. Her advice:

  • Use a blood sugar meter (also called a glucometer) or a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to check your blood sugar at home. This device measures the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood, usually from your fingertip. Talk with your health care team about how often to test and when.
  • Watch your meds. Take them exactly as directed. The time of day when you take them is very important.
  • Eat regularly. Be sure to consume three meals, plus snacks, at regular times of the day to avoid low blood sugar.
  • Drink water. Becoming dehydrated can cause your blood sugar to get dangerously high. Avoid any drinks with added sugar, including juice.
  • Take a walk after meals. Exercise helps to lower your blood sugar and maintain your health. Carry a snack with you in case you feel your sugar getting too low.
  • Monitor mental acuity. Alert family members or friends to any sudden or marked change in your mental status, including confusion. Cognitive changes may be due to low levels of glucose in the blood.

RWJUH Rahway offers a Diabetes Self-Management program for people with prediabetes or diabetes. To learn more, call 732-499-6109.