Almost every person who has diabetes knows that the HbA1c (hemoglobin A1c) test is one of the best tools available for tracking diabetes patients’ overall blood sugar level for any 90 days. For example, a patient may register a blood glucose level of 8.2 mg/dL at the start of January but then undertakes a serious exercise and meals routine that leads to an A1c reading in April of 7.1 mg/dL.
While that result can be very gratifying, it still leads to an unanswered question: How much did a patient’s blood sugar levels vary over those three months? Is there a way to see a pattern of rising and falling levels over that 90-day range? The answer is yes, thanks to the recent introduction of the Time and Range theory. The significance of this new measurement is to look at how long your blood sugar stays within a certain range, while the A1c provides you with the average blood sugar for 90 days.
For example, Time and Range can detect how long you are in the ideal blood sugar range of 70 to 180 mg/dL, as well as how long your sugars strayed above and below that range. Let’s say there are two diabetes patients whose A1c’s are an identical 7.2 mg/dL. But when both look at their Time and Range readings, the results are dramatically different. The results show that the first patient’s levels remained for the most Time within an ideal range, with periodic but minor dips into hypoglycemic and leaps into hyperglycemic numbers.
But the second patient’s numbers show extensive Time spent in the hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic territory. Those opposite numbers average out to 7.2—a deceptive number that makes patient two look in control rather than careening between possibly dangerous states.
As Time goes on, you’ll be hearing more and more about Time and Range from your healthcare team. Knowing how long your blood sugar stays at a certain range can help them fine-tune your therapy and or medication, allowing you to experience fewer highs and lows in your daily self-care care.