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Diabetes Developments - A blog on latest developments in diabetes by David Mendosa

Entries Tagged as 'Diabetes Testing'

Will the Diabetes Sentry Prevent Hypos?

December 27th, 2013 · 2 Comments

I wish that I could give you an unqualified endorsement of the new Diabetes Sentry. It is the only noninvasive device currently on the market for the detection of hypoglycemia symptoms. Worn like a wristwatch, it is simple and easy to use.

It can detect the two most common symptoms of hypoglycemia, a blood sugar level that can be dangerously low and which many people with diabetes call a hypo. The common symptoms are a drop in skin temperature and an increase in perspiration. When a Diabetes Sentry detects one of these symptoms, it sounds an audible alarm.

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The Key Diabetes Test Bites the Dust

October 27th, 2013 · 4 Comments

A spokesperson for Bayer Diabetes Care today confirmed that the company will stop making the device that is the best way we have to check our key blood glucose level.

When I called Susan Yarin, the spokesperson for Bayer’s diabetes care business, I asked her about the rumor that Bayer would stop making the A1CNow device at the end of the year. This device is the only way that we have to check our A1C levels at home and get immediate results.

“It’s not a rumor,” Ms. Yarin replied. “I can confirm it.”

She told me that Bayer would be closing down the facility that produces the A1CNow at the end of the year. A1CNow units “will be available as long as supplies are available.”

I told her that I was dismayed and that, since I check my A1C level on the first day of every month, I had just ordered A1CNow+ units that Bayer makes for professionals. This is the same as the A1CNow SelfCheck that Bayer makes for patients and sells in pharmacies, except the professional version includes 10 tests while the patient version includes two tests. I purchased the 10-pack kit (1 monitor and 10 test cartridges) from A1CTest for $129.00 plus $8.95 shipping and handling. That works out to $13.80 per test. Most pharmacies sell the A1CNow SelfCheck for about $30, which is $15 per test plus tax.

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A New Audible Meter for People with Diabetes

October 19th, 2013 · No Comments

Most blood glucose meters are either pretty basic and inexpensive or offer lots of features at considerable cost. But one meter comes with a low price tag and yet does more than any other.

For those of us who have limited vision or are blind this meter is a godsend. It is the second generation Solus V2 meter from BioSense Medical Devices in Duluth, Georgia.

I reviewed its predecessor, the Solo V2, three years ago at “A New Talking Meter.” BioSense changed the name slightly and improved a fine meter even more. The V2 in the name of both the original and new meter refers to vision and voice, not version. In fact, however the Solus V2 is also the second version of the talking blood glucose meter from BioSense.

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Find the Best Diabetes Meters

April 20th, 2013 · 8 Comments

Finding the best blood glucose meter has just become a little easier for some people who have diabetes.

If you live in the United States, you now have an extensive website that will make the quest easier. The site is part of FindTheBest where you can “Compare Blood Glucose Meters.”

FindTheBest provides “unbiased, data-driven comparisons” of everything from smart phones to dog breeds with blood glucose meters somewhere in between. The site does this with any advertising or fee.

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Pedometer Prodding for Diabetes Management

February 27th, 2013 · No Comments

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had some gentle encouragement to get the physical activity that those of us who have diabetes need. Even people who are already in the habit of moving a lot can use a non-judgemental poke once in a while to keep on track.

We may prefer to saunter, stroll, or wander. Or perhaps our usual locomotion is to walk briskly, hike, or jog. Whatever way we like to get out, even those of us most dedicated to managing our diabetes sometimes need a bit of a prod.

I know that I do. Even though walking and hiking is an essential part of the good life for me, my experience for the past two weeks proves to me that carrying a pedometer in my pocket encourages me to take more steps.

I have been on vacation in Southwest Florida since New Year’s Day. We have some nice couches in the condo that a friend of mine and I are renting. But we have hardly used them because we came here to go birding and to take photographs of the birds and other natural beauty we can find.

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Operator Error in Diabetes Testing

February 21st, 2013 · 3 Comments

Saying that operator error is the biggest problem that people who have diabetes have when we check our blood sugar sounds like blaming the victim. But I’m convinced that some mistakes we make when using our meters and test strips and lancets is the reason why testing so often gives us wacky blood sugar numbers.

People with diabetes know all about blaming the victim. For years I have argued against the common fallacy that diabetes is a lifestyle disease caused by our weight and sloth. In fact, most of us have diabetes in our genes, as the new science of genetic testing shows.

But sometimes — and not always — the victim herself or himself causes the error. That’s what is going on with some of the inaccurate readings that those of us who have diabetes often get from our blood glucose meters.

For more than 40 years, people who have diabetes have been lucky to be able to check their blood sugar levels at home and when travelling. We can do it whenever we need to do so. We don’t have to go to a doctor’s office or a hospital or a lab. Consequently, we forgot what a sophisticated testing device we have in our hands. Blood glucose meters are one of very few blood testing devices that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lets untrained people use.

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People with Diabetes Like These Meters

January 31st, 2013 · No Comments

Most of us who have diabetes are happy with the blood glucose meters that we use. This is the main conclusion of the first Blood Glucose Meter Satisfaction Study. This study by the marketing firm J.D. Power and Associates came out today, and I interview Scott Hawkins, its director of healthcare, for further insights.

They based the study on responses they got last month from 2,681 meter users. Scott told me that they used online panels of respondents who have opted in to take surveys and that they used their email responses.

The study included all the meters from the four top meter manufacturers, Roche Diagnostics, Abbott Diabetes Care, Bayer Diabetes Care, and LifeScan. Why just those four companies? “Because they make up 80 of the market,” Scott replied. In fact, almost all health insurance plans limit our choices to meters from these four companies.

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How Often to Check A1C

December 23rd, 2012 · 4 Comments

All of us who have diabetes regularly get our A1C checked. Few of us check it often enough.

The A1C is the best way we have to show how well we are managing our disease. It’s a simple test that we can perform at home or at a doctor’s office or lab.

Just like the fingerstick tests that we use for spot checking our blood sugar levels before or after meals, the A1C test uses a small drop of blood. But the A1C measures our sugar level over a lot longer time.

How much longer is the question. The answer to that question can tell us how often that we need to check our A1C level.

The A1C test measures the percentage of glycated hemoglobin, also known as HbA1C, in our blood. We need to check our A1C level “twice a year at a minimum or more frequently when necessary,” is the advice that the American Diabetes Association offers in its “A1C” article. That’s because “the A1C test measures your average blood glucose control for the past 2 or 3 months.”

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Best Blood Glucose Meters

November 20th, 2012 · 8 Comments

If you use a blood glucose meters from one of the big four meter companies to check your level four times a day, you will probably pay anywhere from $1,700 to $2,300 each year. But if instead you test with a meter and strips from one of the “big box” stores, you would be out of pocket only about $600 to $800.

This is a useful bit of information from the latest Consumer Reports review of the “Best Blood Glucose Meters.” The magazine rates 21 meters in a brief article of one chart and five paragraphs in less than a page in its November 2012 issue.

The big box stores that sell some of the least expensive meters and test strips are Wal-Mart and Target. Wal-Mart has offered its ReliOn brand for years, but Target now offers its Up & Up brand.

Still, the wide price gap may be misleading. Each of the big four — LifeScan, Roche, Bayer, and Abbott — offer programs that can provide some of us test strips for considerably less.

Most people with diabetes will find the report, however brief, useful. It’s already on newsstands and, better yet, on the shelves of most libraries.

What Consumer Reports says is important. Published by the nonprofit Consumers Union and containing no ads, this is one of our largest circulation magazines. Two years ago it had a circulation of 7.3 million copies, according to a review of the magazine in The Wall Street Journal.

The magazine regularly reviews these meters, the most important tool that we have for managing our blood sugar. Four years ago I wrote here about its review of 13 meters from eight different manufacturers.

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The Numbers That Drive Our Diabetes Management

October 26th, 2012 · 4 Comments

Dr. Tim Reid asked me a couple of days ago why I was so numbers driven. I had just spoken at a meeting of diabetes professionals about my success in bringing my weight between February 2006 and May 2008 from 312 pounds, which is a body mass index of 39.5, to 156 pounds, a BMI of 19.8. Today after a nine-hour hike in the mountains yesterday it is even a little lower, 154 pounds, a BMI of 19.5.

Dr. Reid  treats patients at the Mercy Diabetes Center in Janesville, Wisconsin. He also serves as the chairman of the Department of Family Practice for Mercy Health System.

At the meeting I had also told him and the other members of the group how I brought down my A1C level from 14.4 when a doctor first told me in February 1994 that I have type 2 diabetes. Now it is 5.1.

But I fumbled at answering Dr. Reid’s question. Admitting that I am not an engineer with the engineering mentality that delights in numbers, when he asked me why these numbers were so important to me, I didn’t have an answer on the tip of my tongue.

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