News | September 19, 2007

Under-The-Skin Sensors Help Diabetics Monitor Insulin Levels

September 20, 2007 - Sensors, such as Medtronic Inc.'s three-day Real-Time monitor for adults or children and DexCom Inc.'s STS-7 seven-day monitor for adults, are changing the way diabetics are monitoring their insulin levels.

The noninvasive sensors replace the standard finger-prick technique for testing blood sugar and come with alarms that can sound in time to avoid dangerously high or low blood sugar levels.

Frequent glucose testing —four to eight times a day with a finger prick — helps patients maintain tighter glucose control, lowering their risk of diabetic-related healthcare problems. But, regrettably, few diabetics test that often, and even frequent testers cannot know if glucose soars or plummets between tests or during sleep.

With the new sensor technology, diabetics insert a sensor just under the skin of the side or abdomen every three or seven days. The sensors wirelessly beam glucose readings to a pager-like device every five minutes.

According to Dr. Irl Hirsch of the University of Washington, the sensors help lower A1Cs between 7 and 8.5, but not those who start out higher.

By November, scientists should complete enrollment of 450 diabetics into a study funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to address insurers' questions on best use of the sensors.

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