People with type one diabetes are at risk for hypoglycemia, a dangerous drop in blood sugar that can cause confusion, seizures or loss of consciousness. Monitoring blood sugar levels has traditionally required a finger prick several times a day. Now, researchers want to know if older adults will adopt new technology designed to improve blood sugar control. WISDM Trial.
When Pat Wloch hits the nature trail near her home, she’s never without two things: her smartphone and glucose tablets. Pat has type one diabetes and unpredictable blood sugar levels.
“I’m what people used to call a brittle diabetic. I can be 150, 200, and then a half an hour later, I can be 40,” Pat Wloch shared.
Pat manages her diabetes with the help of a continuous glucose monitor, or CGM, and an insulin pump. A tiny sensor on her abdomen measures glucose levels; a wireless transmitter sends the information to Pat’s smartphone.
Pat was part of the WISDM trial, Wireless Innovation for Seniors with Diabetes Mellitus. One group used glucose monitors—the other used finger sticks and test strips to track blood glucose changes.
“People who had the continuous glucose monitor had less hypoglycemia, had fewer low blood sugar reactions, no matter how we defined it,” explained Richard Pratley, MD diabetes program head at AdventHealth Translational Research Institute and medical director at the AdventHealth Diabetes Institute.
READ: How to manage diabetes for people over 60
The study also found 81 percent of the adults assigned CGMs were still using the devices full-time, six months later.
“There’s this kind of bias that older individuals are not adept with technology and we proved that wrong,” Dr. Pratley exclaimed.
“I like using it on my phone just because the phone is with me all the time,” Wloch shared.
A lifeline that instantly shows Pat’s levels, no matter where she goes!
Continuous glucose monitors have been used by diabetes patients for the past decade, but not all CGMs are covered by Medicare. A proposed federal rule to cover all CGMs may soon allow people with diabetes more choice in the type of diabetes technology they are able to use. That change may take place this spring.