Diabetes General

Studies suggest high tech monitors help type 1 diabetics manage their condition

by Barbara Hewitt on January 26, 2017

High tech monitors do help people with type 1 diabetes to control their blood sugar levels more effectively say researchers on two new studies examining the benefits of such devices.

The studies from Sweden and the United State both show that a continuous glucose monitor, known as a CGM, helps people with type 1 diabetes who need insulin injections every day manage their blood sugar levels safely.

Dexcom-G4-Platinum-GCM-receiver-transmitterCGMs work using a thin wire sensor that is implanted underneath the skin, a transmitter that is on top of the skin and a receiver such as a smartphone so continually monitor a person’s blood sugar levels.

When blood sugar levels go out of range, either too high or too low, the CGM’s receiver sends an alarm to the receiver to alert the person with diabetes, or a parent for babies and children with diabetes, to the need for action.

This is important because when blood sugar levels drop too low, people with diabetes can become disoriented, and if levels drop even further, they may pass out. Blood sugar levels that are too high and left untreated over time can cause complications such as kidney troubles, eye problems and heart disease.

Both studies used the Dexcom G4 CGM and were funded by the manufacturer Dexcom. Some 151 people took part in the study in Sweden and 158 in Tampa, Florida. All were using daily injections to manage their insulin levels.

The first group was given a CGM for 26 weeks and then conventional treatment for 26 weeks, with a period of no monitoring for 17 weeks in between. The other group did this in reverse and started with self-monitoring of blood sugar levels.

In both studies blood sugar levels improved in both groups of patients. HbA1C levels dropped by 0.6% in the Florida study and by 0.4% in the Swedish study. Both study authors said these drops were meaningful for patients. The Swedish group also saw a drop in severe low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) in people using a CGM.

‘The satisfaction in our study was extremely high. CGMs have gotten smaller and more accurate. The benefits are greater and the hassles are less. It’s worth it to carry around another device,’ said lead research in Tampa, Dr. Roy Beck, executive director of the Jaeb Centre for Health Research.

Dr Marcus Lind, lead researcher on the Swedish study, chief of diabetology at Uddevalla Hospital, said few treatment options exist for people with type 1 diabetes so anything that improves management is welcomed. ‘CGM is a treatment option that people should test if they have the option,’ he added.

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