Blood glucose and target levels

Having high blood glucose makes you more likely to get other health problems, so keeping your blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible is very important. Your doctor or nurse will help you with this.

Having your blood glucose checked: HbA1c

The HbA1c blood test reflects your average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 months. Keeping your HbA1c levels as close to normal as possible is an important part of managing diabetes. Your doctor or nurse should discuss this with you, and together you should agree a personal HbA1c target to aim for. If you find that reaching or staying at the target level is affecting your day‑to‑day life and making things worse, you should discuss this with the doctor or nurse.

Your HbA1c should be tested every 3 to 6 months. It might be done more often if your blood glucose levels are changing quickly. When your HbA1c level is stable, you should then have an HbA1c blood test every 6 months.

The HbA1c result is given in a unit of measurement that is written as 'mmol/mol'. HbA1c used to be given as a percentage (%), so you may still see this.

The HbA1c target for most people with type 2 diabetes is 48 mmol/mol (or 6.5%), but your doctor might suggest a different target for you. You should be offered support, diet and lifestyle advice, and medicine if you need it, to help you reach and stay at your HbA1c target.

Questions to ask about HbA1c

  • What does HbA1c show about my blood glucose?

  • How, where and how often will it be tested?

  • What HbA1c target should I aim for?

  • What if I'm having problems meeting my target?

Testing your own blood glucose

Usually, blood glucose testing is done by your doctor or nurse. But some people, for example people using insulin, might be able to do this at home with a home‑testing kit. This is called self‑monitoring. If your doctor or nurse thinks self‑monitoring would be suitable for you, you'll be given training on what to do, and your doctor or nurse should assess your self‑monitoring at least once a year.

Self-monitoring isn't suitable for everyone with type 2 diabetes, and you should only self‑monitor if your doctor or nurse advises it.

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