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A1c Chart: Explanation, Levels, and Categories

Glycated Hemoglobin A1c: 5.8%

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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by
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Published on November 21, 2022
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5 min

Your A1c level is your average blood sugar level from the past three months. A hemoglobin test assesses your blood sugar levels and identifies if they fall into the normal, prediabetes, or diabetes range. What number determines a prediabetes diagnosis? Discover what an A1c 5.8 test result means and what you can do to reduce your blood glucose levels.

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What Does a Hemoglobin A1c 5.8 Mean?

A hemoglobin A1c test result of 5.8 indicates prediabetes.

It means that 5.8% of your red blood cells have sugar-coated hemoglobin. Sugar attaches to hemoglobin when it enters your bloodstream. While every individual has some amount of sugar attached, people with higher blood sugar levels have more than the average person.

The prediabetes range falls between 5.7–6.4%.1 The higher the number within this range, the greater your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. While prediabetes is not yet a diabetes diagnosis, it is a serious health condition that requires urgent lifestyle changes to reduce risk.

If you don’t begin a treatment plan to fight prediabetes, you may develop diabetes mellitus – a chronic condition that requires medical care and continuous diabetes treatment. High blood sugar for an extended period can cause serious diabetes complications, such as heart disease.2

The table below shows the measurements for the A1c test:

HbA1cPercentages
Normal ✅3.5–5.6
Prediabetes ❌5.7–6.4
Diabetes ❌6.5–15 

How to Reduce Prediabetes A1c Levels?

There are lots of ways to lower your A1c levels and bring your results back into the normal range. A healthy diet, exercise plan, and stopping smoking are a must. Remember, your A1c level is your estimated average glucose, and you must monitor it regularly.

Below, you can find the top 3 steps to reduce your blood sugar levels.

#1 Clean diet

The most critical strategy to get your blood sugar levels back into the healthy range is to eat a clean diet.

A clean eating plan features lots of whole foods and eliminates heavily refined and processed foods that don’t benefit your overall health. You should aim to get plenty of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and healthy fats daily to keep your entire body healthy and strong.

A well-balanced diet is a proven nutritional strategy for prediabetes intervention.3 Your diabetes care team can assist you in creating a prediabetes diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean poultry, fish, eggs, beans, legumes, and whole grains.

The Klinio app is a helpful tool for prediabetes and diabetes monitoring and prevention. It serves as your personal assistant in managing your condition and helps tailor a dietary treatment plan to lower your A1c. This will prevent you from developing diabetes and other health conditions.

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#2 Enough exercise

Alongside diet, regular exercise is the best way to manage diabetes and prediabetes.

Exercise keeps your red blood cells healthy. It has been proven to boost insulin sensitivity, allowing your body to use glucose more effectively.4 Moderate-intensity exercise is also associated with lower levels of glucose and improved glucose control throughout the day.5

The general recommendation for most healthy adults is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, with strength training at least twice a week.6 You can do this by taking up a hobby you enjoy, such as brisk walking, running, cycling, or swimming.

#3 Reduce stress

Stress can impact your blood glucose due to high adrenaline and cortisol levels, as more glucose is released from the liver and into the bloodstream. Stress can also trigger high blood pressure, which can cause insulin resistance – another risk factor for prediabetes.7

Studies find that people with prediabetes and severe stress have increased A1c levels.8 Managing stress is vital for managing diabetes and prediabetes. It can help bring your A1c levels down and support diabetes prevention.

There are lots of techniques you can try to reduce your stress levels. Practicing positive daily habits, like getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and meditating, are excellent strategies. You can also talk to your doctor about coping mechanisms to keep yourself calm.

What Are the Symptoms of Prediabetes?

A person with prediabetes may experience several symptoms. The only way to know if you have prediabetes is with a simple blood test, like the A1c test, which measures your average blood sugar levels. Your doctor can take a blood sample from your arm or a finger stick.

Prediabetes can go undetected for years, but the minority may develop these symptoms:

  • Increased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing cuts and wounds

If you think you might have prediabetes, you should visit your doctor for a blood test.

Lifestyle Factors Could Lead to A1c 5.8%

Several factors can contribute to the development of high blood sugar and a prediabetes A1c level. Genetics and family history are partly responsible, making prediabetes a higher risk for those with a relative who has diabetes. Another significant cause of prediabetes is your lifestyle.

The most common risk factors for prediabetes are:

  • Obesity and being overweight
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle

Other factors include:

  • Being over the age of 45
  • Medical conditions, such as gestational diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

FAQs

Should I use medications to manage HbA1c 5.8%?

If you receive an HbA1c 5.8% result, your doctor will typically advise a treatment plan that includes healthy lifestyle changes. Most people who require diabetes treatment need medicine to aid blood sugar control. Prediabetes does not usually require medication, although it may sometimes be prescribed.

What is the A1c 5.8% conversion rate?

An A1c level of 5.8% converts to a blood sugar reading of 119.76mg/dL. It indicates that you have more glucose in your blood than normal and that you have prediabetes. Taking steps to reduce your blood glucose levels is a critical part of preventing the onset of diabetes.

Can I eat foods high in sugar if my HbA1c is at 5.8%?

An HbA1c of 5.8% signals prediabetes. While a prediabetes diagnosis doesn’t mean you have to eliminate certain food items, cutting down on sugar and highly processed foods is critical for getting your blood sugars under control. You should focus on eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods to manage your condition before it progresses to type 2 diabetes.

How often is it recommended to measure glycated hemoglobin?

If you are an adult over the age of 45 or you have risk factors for developing prediabetes or diabetes, you can get a hemoglobin test every 3 years. If you have prediabetes, your doctor will usually repeat testing every 1–2 years. The test is essential to diagnose diabetes.

References
  1. All About Your A1C (2021). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/managing-blood-sugar/a1c.html
  2. Goyal, R., Jialal, I. (2022). Diabetes Mellitus Type 2. National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513253/
  3. Yau, J. W., Thor, S. M., and Ramadas, A. (2020). Nutritional Strategies in Prediabetes: A Scoping Review of Recent Evidence. National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7650618/
  4. Amanat, S., Ghahri, S., Dianatinasab, A., Fararouei, M., and Dianatinasab, M. (2020). Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes. Physical Exercise for Human Health, National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32342452/
  5. Zheng, X., Qi, Y., Bi, L., Shi, W., Zhang, Y., Zhao, D., Hu, S., Li, M., and Li, Q. (2020). Effects of Exercise on Blood Glucose and Glycemic Variability in Type 2 Diabetic Patients with Dawn Phenomenon. BioMed Research International: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7057022/
  6. Exercise: How much do I need every day? (2021). Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20057916
  7. Prevalence and predictors of prediabetes and its coexistence with high blood pressure in first-degree relatives of patients with type 2 diabetes: A 9-year cohort study (2020). Journal of Research in Medical Sciences: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7213002/
  8. Higher Perceived Stress and Poor Glycemic Changes in Prediabetics and Diabetics Among Indian Population (2020). Journal of Medicine and Life: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7378337/
HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
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