The Many Definitions of a “High” A1c

There is certainly a learning curve when it comes to managing diabetes. Part of that learning curve includes monitoring and understanding your A1c results.

What is a "high" A1c?

Since these results and targets vary from person to person, we wanted to learn more about your journey with managing your A1c levels. We reached out to our Facebook community and asked: “What do you consider a ‘high’ A1c?”

More than 400 of you commented on this hot topic. Here is what was shared.

“I was diagnosed 2 years ago with my A1C at 16.6.”

The wake up call: A1c above 15

For many of you, the wake-up call came when you found out your A1c was over 15. This type of high reading often comes with a hospital visit, which can scare people into making a change. It can be difficult to face the hard truth in such a dramatic and sometimes painful way. However, having that high reading helped many of you take your A1c number much more seriously in the long run.

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“I was diagnosed 2 years ago with my A1c at 16.6, and my sugar was running 5 to 600. That was a wake-up call for me that I had to do something. Now it is way lower than it used to be, but still a little high. It is a work in progress.”

“When I was diagnosed, my blood sugar on average was 26. I would say that is critically high. I now class anything above an 8 high for me, but most of the time I am between 4 and 7.”

“My highest was 11.3.”

The peak at diagnosis: A1c above 10

A number of you shared that your highest A1c reading was slightly more than 10. For many people, a high A1c prompted them to better manage their sugar. When it comes to diabetes, everyone’s story is slightly different. The highest A1c number you ever experienced might be different from others in the community, and that is OK.

“When I was first diagnosed, my A1c was 12+. Anything over 7 is what I now consider high. Back in February, my A1c was 6.1. Then, when the lockdown happened, it jumped to 7.0 in June. I am trying hard to not eclipse that 7.0!”

“My highest was 11.3. Maybe a tad higher.”

“I was in the hospital for 1 week about 5 years ago with a 14.3. My left leg locked up. Had to have a lot of water and fluid drained. It was the scariest thing I ever went through. My average A1c now is at 6.1. I learned my lesson.”

“Above 7 is high for my personal standards.”

Medical guidelines: High A1c above 7

Others shared that you consider an A1c result above 7 to be high. The medical community usually recommends people aim for an A1c of 7 or lower. Many of you mentioned that you make this your goal. However, keep in mind that what works for you might not work for others.

“Above 7 is high for my personal standards. I strive for a 6 knowing that I have a leeway that makes me healthy and my doctor happy.”

“Above 7. When I was first diagnosed it was 14. Now I am stable at 6.”

A low goal: High A1c above 6

The A1c number that someone considers high is very personal. Some of you aim for 6 or below as your goal. If you find that having a lower goal keeps you feeling good, that is great! Finding what works for you is a positive way to manage any diagnosis.

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“It is relative. I was diagnosed with A1c of 6.5, which is the very bottom of the ‘diabetes’ scale. I consider that high since ‘normal’ is 5.7 and below. I know most docs say it is OK for a diabetic to be higher, like up to 7, because the pancreas just does not work the way it used to. I am not there (yet) and I pray I can keep it that way.”

“I would freak out if mine was above 5.5. I keep it at about 5.2. Wish I was disciplined enough to stay at 5.0 or even under.”

“I got diagnosed at 13.4. I went down to 5.8 and have leveled out for now at 6.2. I am nearly 64, so my doctor is happy to have me under 7.0. I still think 6.2 is a little high.”

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this story. We are grateful to be able to share such a variety of perspectives.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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