The study included 161 people with an average age of 44 and each needing several insulin injections per day. Researchers randomly selected participants to use traditional blood sugar checking equipment and prick their fingers at least four times a day to measure blood sugar levels. Those who didn’t have the traditional method had to use a device that measured blood sugar continuously through a thin filament under the skin on the stomach. The filament had a separate unit that would be kept in the pocket to alert the user when sugar levels were too high or too low.
The patients used each method for 6 months and had a 4 month “washout period” where they received no assisted treatment between each round. The study lasted a total of 16 months.
“This is one of few new treatments in recent decades which significantly reduces blood sugar levels for persons with type 1 diabetes who are dependent on insulin injections,” said Dr. Marcus Lind, chief physician of diabetology at Uddevalla Hospital in Sweden and head researcher on this study.
The results of the study showed that the blood sugar value, measured with HbA1c, dropped by 5 millimole per mole.
“The principle question was whether there would be a difference in the average blood sugar levels. What we saw was that when patients used this continual blood sugar measurement, they had a lower blood sugar level on average—something which is considered significant in reducing the risk of complications with type 1 diabetes,” Lind said.
About 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, with an estimated 40,000 being diagnosed each year, according to the American Diabetes Association. In type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce insulin normally. The sugars and starches that are consumed get broken down into a simple sugar called glucose that gets used for energy. Insulin transports glucose from the bloodstream into body cells. When there is no insulin being produced, there is an abundance of glucose, creating high blood sugar levels. Insulin injections help deliver the insulin needed to use the carbohydrates consumed as fuel.
“When there are high sugar levels in the cells, various biochemical processes are triggered which increase the risk of damage, primarily to nerves and vessels. If you have high sugar values over long periods, for example, the retinas, kidneys and heart can be affected. The higher the values, the more harmful, which is why this is so important,” Lind said.
The study was published online on the Journal of the American Medical Associate website.
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