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Understanding the HbA1c Tracker

The HbA1c Tracker complements the Diabetes Chart HbA1c conversion table by addressing the months leading up to a lab test.  It provides

  • enhanced picture of daily glucose control
  • estimate of HbA1c on an on-going basis
  • tool for spotting problems
  • means of setting achievable improvement goals

Importantly, the HbA1c Tracker is comparatively easy to understand and maintain.  Instead of recording numbers, users enter dots which are collected in a histogram.

Histograms: is a picture worth a thousand numbers?

An HbA1c lab result reflects average glucose levels over the previous two to three months.  It corresponds to an average of accurate and representative Self-Monitored Blood Glucose (SMBG) readings over the same period, and can be estimated by determining that average.  The easiest way of doing this is to manage SMBG readings in the form of a histogram.

A histogram simply takes glucose readings and displays the relative frequency with which they occur.  It is an accurate, yet intuitive and very visual tool.  If properly sampled, glucose readings cluster in central bars of the histogram.  When this happens, the tallest bar usually represents the average of the readings. It also corresponds to an HbA1c estimate.  With a little luck HbA1c can be approximated merely by glancing at the histogram.  This is why we ask the question, "Is a picture worth a thousand numbers?"  The answer is often "yes".

Histograms and their visual nature have additional benefits for diabetics.  First, when a predominant bar fails to occur, or when it occurs but does not reflect the average, the shape of the histogram itself often provides clues for troubleshooting.  Second, the shape shows the tightness by which glucose is controlled.  By becoming sensitive to histogram shape, a diabetic can better appreciate how both good and poor glucose numbers affect their longer term blood sugar control.

The HbA1c Tracker Histograms

The HbA1c Tracker includes three histograms for both plasma blood glucose readings and whole blood glucose readings.  For either type of reading the histograms vary in tightness of glucose control, with class intervals arbitrarily set to round steps in the HbA1c scale (1.0%, 0.5% and 0.2%).

Plasma Blood Glucose (Newer Home Glucose Meters)

Color code

Glucose control level Interval and maximum predictive accuracy Covered range
Blue Tight 7 mg/dl, 0.2% HbA1c  97-167 mg/dl, 4.9-6.87% HbA1c
Green Medium 18 mg/dl, 0.5% HbA1c 83-260 mg/dl, 4.5-9.47% HbA1c 
Red Loose 36 mg/dl, 1.0% HbA1c 65-420 mg/dl, 4.0-13.97% HbA1c

Whole Blood Glucose (Older Home Glucose Meters)

Color code

Glucose control level Interval and maximum predictive accuracy Covered range
Blue Tight 6 mg/dl, 0.2% HbA1c  87-146 mg/dl, 4.9-6.87% HbA1c
Green Medium 15 mg/dl, 0.5% HbA1c 75-224 mg/dl, 4.5-9.47% HbA1c 
Red Loose 30 mg/dl, 1.0% HbA1c 60-359 mg/dl, 4.0-13.97% HbA1c

Users are encouraged to begin with the medium control level histogram and then move to the tighter or looser chart if warranted by results.

THE DIABETES CHART HbA1c TRACKER IS A GENERAL EDUCATIONAL TOOL.  IT IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL ADVICE, REGULAR HbA1c TESTING, OR OTHER FORMS OF DIABETIC RECORD KEEPING AND READINGS ANALYSIS.

Take HbA1c Tracker printouts with you to your healthcare provider.  Always involve him or her in goal setting and readings interpretation.

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Printable HbA1c to glucose conversion charts:

USA (mg/dl)   Plasma Blood Glucose (newer meters)    Whole Blood Glucose (older meters)

International (mmol/L)   Plasma Blood Glucose (newer meters)    Whole Blood Glucose (older meters)

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