Dear Dr. Roach: I am 74 years old and have been a brittle Type 1 diabetic for 50 years. I have no history of heart disease. My doctor of 40 years recently retired and had me control my hemoglobin A1C to a range of 5.9-6.2. My new doctor, who is in her mid-30s, wants me to elevate my hemoglobin A1C to 8.0. Is this the new way of controlling blood sugar? I am confused! Can you please explain the difference in opinion? E.S.
Answer: Brittle diabetes is when it is hard to control too-high and too-low blood sugars.
The A1C is a blood test that looks at average blood sugar over the past few months. A normal A1C is between 4 and 5.6%. People with normal A1C levels are at very low risk of complications from diabetes, especially of the kidneys (leading to dialysis), eyes (which ultimately leads to blindness) and nerves (diabetic neuropathy is painful and predisposes to injury).