* For More Information, Contact:
American Diabetes Association
(800) DIABETES (800-342-2383)
BREAKTHROUGH DIABETES DEVICES: REPORT #1557
BACKGROUND: The American Diabetes Association says 23.6 million people in the United States are living with diabetes, or 8 percent of the population. The prevalence of the disease jumped by 13.5 percent between 2005 and 2007. A diagnosis of diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2, means a lifestyle change. To keep blood sugars in check, diabetics have to monitor it manually, deliver insulin and adjust diet. In some cases, exercise and weight loss can reduce the severity of the disease.
TECHNOLOGY TO MONITOR DIABETES: The increase in prevalence of the disease has provoked a boom in technology to monitor and control it. Traditionally, diabetics had to regularly test their urine to keep track of blood sugar levels. Now, most diabetics use blood glucose meters to monitor it. With a typical glucose meter, the patient places a small sample of blood on a disposable test strip and places that strip on the meter. The glucose in the blood adheres to chemicals on the test strip, and the meter measures how much glucose is present. The Food and Drug Administration says at least 25 different meters are commercially available. After a blood glucose reading is done, the patient is responsible for administering insulin if needed. This can be done through a syringe, an insulin pen, a jet injector, an insulin port or an insulin pump. Insulin pumps deliver insulin 24 hours a day through a catheter inserted under the skin. The patient wearing it can order the pump to deliver extra insulin at meals or other times when blood sugars may be too high. New technology links meters and pumps wirelessly, so the patient doesn't have to calculate and enter the correct amount of insulin into the pump.
The same meters that can transmit blood sugar readings wirelessly can keep track of other data like exercise habits and carbohydrate counts. All of this data can be uploaded to a computer, printed off and taken to the doctor's office. "By being able to put all this information into the meters, it can help the health care provider make better recommendations towards health care," Thomas O'Connell, M.D., an endocrinologist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., told Ivanhoe.
AN ARTIFICIAL PANCREAS FOR DIABETICS: The newest development in diabetes management is continuous glucose monitoring. This system consists of a small plastic catheter inserted just under the skin, similar to the way an insulin pump is connected. The catheter collects small amounts of liquid and measures the amount of glucose in it. If blood sugar levels climb too high or drop too low, an alarm sounds. A diabetes monitoring system that combines continuous glucose monitoring and an insulin pump will be the next step in diabetes technology. The combination would eliminate both the need for finger pricking and calculating and would essentially be like a pancreas outside the patient's body, both monitoring blood sugar and delivering the proper amount of insulin. Although the diabetes device company Medtronic is already marketing pumps and continuous glucose monitoring as a set, a finger prick and meter reading is still required.
Copyright 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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