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

Entries Tagged as 'Testing'

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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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Pumping Insulin: How, Why, and When

September 2nd, 2012 · No Comments

If you take insulin injections to manage your diabetes, you know how important it is. You also know that taking the right amount at the right time is tricky.

If you are using an insulin pump, you know that you can get even better control over your diabetes. Research studies show that people on pumps have lower A1C levels, fewer hypos, and less variability in their blood sugar than those who use multiple daily injections. A pump provides precise delivery of insulin, more flexibility, and greater convenience. But pumping insulin can be even trickier than injecting it.

Anyone who uses an insulin pump or is considering one needs to read Pumping Insulin by John Walsh and Ruth Roberts. They have just come out with the fifth edition of this key guide. You and I know that when you do something five times you must be awfully good or awfully bad at it. I can’t think of any other book for people with diabetes that has gone through five editions and very few that are this good.

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Selecting a Diabetes Device

August 23rd, 2012 · No Comments

All of us who have diabetes need some devices to help us manage. But each of us need different devices.

Every one of us needs a blood glucose meter. Some of us need continuous glucose monitors, insulin pens, and insulin pumps. But depending on our individual differences we need different makes and models of these devices.

We are lucky to have a wide variety of devices to choose from. About 40 companies offer us about 100 different blood glucose meters. These meters are more and more sophisticated, but the shear number of choices we have can be daunting while still being a good thing for our individuality.

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The Smallest Meter in its Class

June 15th, 2012 · 8 Comments

The smallest blood glucose meter can make the biggest splash. That was part of the strategy that the French multinational pharmaceutical company followed when it jumped into the U.S. meter market.
Sanofi’s headquarters are in Paris, and it is the third largest pharma company in the world. Its Lantus is the world’s number one selling insulin. But it hadn’t made blood glucose meters before.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved this outstanding new meter, called the iBGStar, in December. And just this month you can buy one.

When Sanofi decided to broaden its outreach to Americans who have diabetes it did something both smart and unusual. It forged an international partnership with two other top companies, one on America’s East Coast and another in Asia.

Sanofi itself is handling the sales and marketing of the iBGStar. But it turned to one of the best meter companies to design, develop, and manufacture the iBGStar.

AgaMatrix in Salem, New Hampshire, “invented” the iBGStar, according to the company’s website. Earlier, AgaMatrix invented some of the most accurate blood glucose meters that I have ever reviewed, including the WaveSense Jazz, which I wrote about here four years ago in “The Ultimate Meter.” The new iBGStar builds on the accuracy technology that AgaMatrix has developed over the years.

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The Nova Max Plus Meter

May 20th, 2012 · No Comments

Nobody questions our need for blood glucose meters to be accurate. Yet only a few of the meter manufacturers seem to be doing anything about it.

People with diabetes rely on our meters to see what the food we eat, the exercise we get, and the medication we take does to our blood glucose levels. Only when we know that our levels are too high or too low we can we take corrective action.

But anyone who has compared two readings on the same meter taken within a minute or two, or two readings on different meters, knows that the results could differ by 40 or 50 points. This can leave us so uncertain about what to do that we get frustrated. Worse, following incorrect results can be dangerous.

Our blood glucose meters are getting better. They have more bells and whistles that are important for some of us. We have a much greater choice of meters every year.

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LifeScan’s New VerioIQ Meter

February 25th, 2012 · 3 Comments

When the country’s leading blood glucose meter manufacturer introduces its first new meter in years, checking it out makes sense. LifeScan, a Johnson & Johnson company, sells more meters in this country than any other company, and it just came out with a new version of its old OneTouch meter. This one they call the VerioIQ, because it’s so smart.

Its IQ is actually pretty simple, different from human intelligence. It helps us identify the patterns in our blood glucose testing.

These patterns are probably among the biggest benefits we can get from regular blood glucose testing. We can use some other meters to identify trends in our blood glucose levels.

But only a meter that let us mark whether each test is before or after a meal can show us a pattern or a trend. LifeScan pioneered this valuable feature, which the company called “event labeling.” Other events can usefully include before and after exercising, fasting, and before bed levels, like the outstanding Telcare meter does.

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Telcare: A Good Call for Reporting Blood Glucose

February 11th, 2012 · No Comments

Right along with the theme of ringing in the new year, I want to tell you about the latest in blood glucose testing devices. It’s called Telcare.

Its unique calling is how it instantaneously sends the good news about my managed low glucose sugar readings via wireless cell phone technology directly to my password-protected web page account.

Most importantly, it sends my BG data automatically, without any additional buttons to push. Now that’s a good call. I don’t want to be bothered and burdened to learn how to work my new gadgets. I like it when they’re well designed and instantly user friendly, like my iPad and Kindle.

The device at first glance is simple and easy to use. Identical in size and thickness to a deck of cards, it has a large 1.5” x 2” colorful and pleasant digital screen. However, like a cell phone, it runs on a rechargeable battery and consequently needs to get plugged in and recharged. Perhaps that wouldn’t be so handy to use on my frequent travel photo journal adventures.

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