Newer techniques that allow diabetics to monitor their blood sugar levels work better than traditional methods – such as insulin shots – and require fewer painful needle sticks, new Johns Hopkins research suggests.
The research findings, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggest that even though the newer methods – including wearable insulin pumps and monitors – are more costly, type 1 diabetics who use them are more satisfied with their treatment and quality of life than those who have to give themselves insulin shots many times a day.
"Our study was designed to help patients and physicians better understand the effectiveness of insulin pumps and blood sugar sensors that provide constant glucose monitoring compared to conventional approaches," said lead researcher Dr. Sherita Hill Golden, with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "We found that certain devices confer real benefits." SPECIAL: ALERT: Stop Your Sugar Addiction With These 4 Tips — Read More.
In type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. Diabetics must monitor their glucose levels frequently, by pricking their fingers to obtain blood to test blood sugar amounts, and give themselves insulin shots before and after meals and at all other times
For the new study, Golden and her colleagues reviewed 33 studies comparing conventional treatments with newer technologies, such as continuous glucose monitoring devices and insulin pumps.
Monitoring devices track blood sugar levels all day and night, using a sensor attached to the abdomen with a small needle held in place by tape that displays results on a device worn on a belt. The devices also sound alarms if the blood sugar level is dangerously high or low. Insulin pumps are attached to a small tube and needle that goes under the skin in the belly to provide insulin around the clock, as needed.
Researchers found diabetics who used continuous monitoring and insulin pumps were much better able to control their blood sugar levels than those who used finger stick testing and gave themselves shots.
"Those who use the devices as prescribed do the best at maintaining blood sugar control," she said. "Adherence is the key to effectiveness."
The research was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.