A JDRF trial shows that continuous glucose monitor (CGM) devices help to maintain tight blood sugar levels whilst lowering the risk of dangerously low blood sugar.
There is extensive research to show that tight blood glucose control is the best way to prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes complications such as kidney failure, retinopathy and heart disease. According to results from the Diabetes Complications and Control Trial, every one point reduction in HbA1C reduces the risk of long-term complications by approximately 40%.
Unfortunately, research has also shown that one of the hurdles to tight blood sugar control is the risk of hypoglycemia – both real and perceived.
Over the past 15 years the use of different insulin analogs as well as improvements in insulin pumps and blood glucose monitoring has had a positive impact on the ability of people to achieve blood sugar control targets. The rates of severe hypoglycemia, however, remain high and occurrence of such events is often followed by a decline of glycemic control due to fears of further hypoglycemic episodes.
In two multi-centre clinical trials – the first concentrating on people with bad glycemic control and the second on people who intensively manage their blood sugars – JDRF researchers have now demonstrated that an excellent solution to this problem is the use of a continuous glucose monitor, or CGM.
According to these trials, people using CGM spent two hours more time per day in the target blood sugar range of 3.9 to 10.0 mmol/l compared with people using fingerprick testing alone. They also found that CGM subjects had a significant overall improvement in HbA1C over time without an increased number of hypoglycemic attacks.
CGM devices are worn in a similar fashion to an insulin pump and provide both a real-time snapshot of glucose levels as well as trend information on whether glucose is moving up or down. They can also provide a warning when glucose is becoming too high or too low.
The continuous glucose monitor is a key component of the JDRF international Artificial Pancreas Program and these results take researchers one step closer to making the artificial pancreas a reality.
Diabetes Care published online 25th May 2009