Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Diabetes tests: Hemoglobin A1C test

Main Content

Diabetes tests: Hemoglobin A1C test

Diabetes Tests

Hemoglobin A1C test

What is a hemoglobin A1C?

It’s a blood test that measures the amount of sugar on the hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Another name for it is A1C. It represents your average blood sugar over the past 3 months, because 3 months is how long a red blood cell lives. With this test, your average blood sugar level gets reported as a percentage.

What is my A1C target?

The A1C target for most people with diabetes is 7% or less. Depending on the person, the target can vary from 6.5% to 8.5%.

A1C compared to daily blood sugar levels

A1CAverage Blood Sugar
14%19.6 mmol/L
12%16.5 mmol/L
10%13.3 mmol/L
9%11.7 mmol/L
8%10.1 mmol/L
7%8.6 mmol/L
6%7.0 mmol/L

How often do I go to the lab?

Your A1C blood test should be done every 3 months if:

  • Your blood sugars are not in target.
  • You’re starting new diabetes medicines.
  • You’re changing your diabetes medicines.

When your blood sugars are almost always in target, you can have an A1C blood test every 6 months.

Why should I lower my A1C?

Research shows that lowering your A1C by 1% lowers the risk of heart problems, kidney, nerve, and eye disease by up to 40%.

To see this information online and learn more, visit


For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.

Current as of: October 21, 2020

Author: Primary Care and Chronic Disease Management, Alberta Health Services

This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.