Diabetes impacts over 20 million Americans.
Type 1 diabetics depend on insulin injections to maintain appropriate glucose levels. For them, life is a series of measurements and calculations. The measurements are the familiar finger sticks that assess blood sugar levels. The calculations are a bit less formal: "Hmm, can I have a piece of chocolate cake without pushing myself over the edge?"
The issues are, however, much more significant than the temptations of rich and gooey desserts. Patients with too much, or too little, insulin in their body can suffer serious complications. The most serious complication is Insulin Shock - a severe form of hypoglycemia - a condition in which there is an excess of insulin in the body. This causes a rapid lowering of the blood sugar levels, resulting in dizziness, weakness, sweating, rapid pulse and diminished levels of consciousness. This is a true medical emergency that must be resolved quickly, or the patient may die.
But - there is some good news on the measurement front.
The FDA has approved the STS-7 System, manufactured by DexCom Inc. This system continuously monitors a patient's blood sugar levels over a seven-day period. A small wirelike sensor is inserted just beneath the skin and held in place with a bit of tape. The sensor then begins to work its magic.
Every five minutes the sensor reads the patient's blood sugar level. It then transmits the reading, via a wireless signal, to a receiver that stores the data. Most significantly, the sensor allows the patient to set an alarm that will sound if their blood sugar levels are either too high or too low. This can serve as a crucial alert to both patients and family members, allowing them to take action before a true emergency develops.
The system also allows for the collected data to be downloaded to a computer. This allows users to generate reports that show blood glucose level trends for specific days or weeks.
So, if you're going to have the chocolate cake, make sure the alarm volume is turned all the way up...To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To read more about the STS-7 System, see this from DexCom Inc.