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Continuous Glucose Monitors Show Promise for Type 1 Diabetics

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Tuesday, September 09, 2008 12:51 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA & Prescription Drugs, Diabetes, Continuous Glucose Monitoring Devices, Type I Diabetes, A1C

Image: Diabetes Icon


Adults with diabetes who use continuous glucose monitoring devices to help manage their disease, control their blood sugar more effectively than the old-fashion method of finger pricking, according to new research.

Initial testing of three brands of continuous glucose monitoring devices, found that people with Type I diabetes who used them regularly were able to keep their blood sugar levels within healthy ranges, according to researchers.

The devices included in the study were made by Abbott Laboratories, DexCom Inc. and Medtronic Inc.

The study included 322 adults and children –between the ages of 8 to 72, with Type I diabetes.

Participants were put into two different groups: one group was assigned to a control group using standard blood sugar monitoring, which involves pricking a finger for blood and testing glucose levels using a separate device.

The second group was assigned to use a continuous glucose monitoring device which is attached to the body using a small catheter that measures blood glucose level readings every few minutes.

Researchers followed the participants for a year monitoring their A1C levels (also known as glycated hemoglobin or HbA1c), the patient’s average blood sugar level over several months.

A1C goals for adult diabetics is below 7 percent and for children 7.5-8 percent or below. Patients were put into one of three age groups - 8 to 14 years, 15 to 24 years and 25 years or older.

Blood sugar control improvements were best seen in the 25 and older group that was assigned a continuous glucose monitor and whose A1C levels dropped during the duration of study by an average of 0.53 percent compared to that of control patients.

Patients in other age groups assigned a continuous monitoring device fared no better than those in the control group using the old-fashion method of finger pricking.

While the study showed little to no effect of continuous glucose monitoring in children, the results were positive in adults, indicating it can successfully help to regulate blood sugar levels.

“This is the first study of its kind to decisively show the benefits of glucose monitoring – the type insurers need to see before agreeing to pay for such devices,” says study author Roy Beck, director of the Jaeb Center. He further said that while the devices have been approved by the FDA, poor reimbursement has limited their use.

Manufacturers and doctors are trying to persuade more insurance companies to pay for the devices, which cost an average of $500 to $1,000.

A recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says approximately 24 million Americans are afflicted with diabetes, a staggering increase of 15 percent in two years.

Based on the report findings, an estimated 8 percent of people in the U.S. have type-2 diabetes which can be associated with poor diet, obesity, and lack of exercise.

Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.

The study is published in the September 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. #

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