Quick overview of what you’ll learn from this blog post:
- What is A1c?
- How can I measure my A1c?
- What’s the link between Metformin and A1c levels?
Whether you’re just starting out a new Metformin prescription or have been taking Metformin for some time, you might be curious how to tell if it’s “working.” While there are multiple ways to measure Metformin’s effectiveness on your health (more to come!), a simple reduction in your A1c levels is a quick and often painless way to verify just that.
What is A1c?
Glycated Hemoglobin (HbA1c or just A1c for short) is formed when glucose in the blood attaches to the hemoglobin molecule. Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells and carries oxygen to all the other cells in the body. The more sugar in the blood, the higher the percentage of hemoglobin will have sugar attached to it.
The attachment of sugar to Hemoglobin itself can cause damage to the body. However, the most damage is done when sugar attaches to all the other proteins and enzymes in the body and forms Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs, for short, which is a fitting name). The AGEs can wreak all sorts of havoc on the body. The higher the blood sugar, the more AGEs form, and the more damage occurs. This damage accelerates the aging process and can lead to all the bad stuff we often hear diabetics suffer from (e.g. renal disease, damage to small nerves and blood vessels, even blindness).
How can I measure my A1c?
Your A1c levels can be measured with a simple blood test (HbA1c) from your doctor.
In the medical world, we say that A1c represents a three-month average blood sugar (this is due to Hemoglobin’s average turnover time of three months). While there is no one-size-fits-all target for A1c levels (they vary by each person’s age and other factors), normal A1c levels are often between 4.5% and 5.5%; suboptimal levels are often between 5.5 and 6%; levels between 6 and 6.4% is often considered pre-diabetes; levels above 6.4% is diagnostic of diabetes.
Your doctor may report results as A1c or eAG. eAG is very similar to when you might see if you monitor your blood sugar at home with a standard monitor. If so, you can use a free online tool to convert your eAG level to A1c.
You can also measure your blood glucose levels using a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). CGM technology uses a small, discreet sensor (worn on the back of the upper arm) to automatically monitor glucose day and night, for up to 14 days. This device has since become popular among health conscious individuals who want an easy way to measure their glucose levels as it provides actionable insights into how food, exercise, and other everyday activities impact blood glucose levels. In many cases, it can even help you and your doctor dial in the proper Metformin dosage.
What’s the link between Metformin and A1c levels?
A1c levels (and the blood test you complete to track them) are key to managing prediabetes and diabetes. It can also be a tangible way to measure the effectiveness of longevity treatments like Metformin on your overall health.
The effectiveness of any diabetic medication is measured by how well it can lower A1c. In fact, based on this comparison, Metformin is considered to be one of the most potent lowering of A1c levels and can bringA1c down by up to 1.5%. That is a considerable amount given the ranges of A1c levels are fairly small. Think about it: there’s roughly only 1% between suboptimal levels and those diagnostic of diabetes. For many, that could make all the difference. Even more, a 15-year CDC-run clinical study showed Metformin to be the most effective way to prevent prediabetes from becoming diabetes (outside of lifestyle and dietary changes).
It’s important to note that, if you are a non-diabetic, you can still take advantage of the many benefits Metformin has to offer. If you have healthy A1c levels to begin with, you may not see as dramatic of a decrease. There is also a chance you may not see any difference at all. This is not to say that Metformin is not working; rather, it can be a contributing factor to helping you to maintain your low levels.
To learn more about the science behind Metformin, click here.
To request a Metformin prescription, click here.
To request a CGM prescription, click here.