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Duo Care of Diabetes and Hypertension

About 73 percent of adults with diabetes also have hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure (For more information, see this factsheet from the National Institutes of Health). So why haven’t the medical device manufacturers made something that can test our blood glucose and blood pressure in the same meter?

Now, a company new to the American market has done just that. GenExel-Sein, headquartered in South Korea, has just introduced the first combined blood glucose and wrist blood pressure monitor. They call it the Duo-Care (http://www.duo-care.com/ ).

The Food and Drug Administration approved it in January, and the first units came off the assembly line a few days ago. I got one of the first Duo-Care units.

The Duo-Care is small and easy to use. In particular, it uses tiny test strips, which, however, could actually be a problem for people with limited dexterity.

The blood glucose part of the device has good specs. It takes just five seconds and half a microliter of blood to give a test result.

The Duo-Care is more convenient to use than the Omron Hem-711AC blood pressure device, which was highly rated when I bought it several years ago. Of course, I tried to compare blood pressure results from the two devices, and they were close.

The Omron blood pressure device has a big cuff , while the Duo-Care is smaller. But Omron – the big name in blood pressure – also sells wrist blood pressure monitors, and I found them offered online for less than $79 including shipping.

By comparison the suggested retail price of the Duo-Care is $89.99. Since we can usually get blood glucose monitors at little or no cost, the Duo-Care is no bargain unless you want a combined device.

A spokesperson for the company told me that the have already signed up Albertsons , Walgreens.com, CVS, and other companies to sell the Duo-Care. They are meeting with Rite Aid, Wal-Mart, Target and Costco.

My biggest reservation about the Duo-Care is not about the product itself or its price. It’s the packaging.

The packaging was the most user unfriendly that I have ever encountered. Eventually with scissors and several knives I opened most of it, but I was never able to break thought all its layers to get at the lancing device. You should not try to buy a Duo-Care unless the store clerk succeeds in opening the package for you.

My favorite columnist, David Pogue, wrote these paragraphs about packaging in his New York Times “Circuits” column:

“Thou shalt not entomb thy product in indestructible plastic. Sure, we understand the temptation: you want your packaging to be sturdy yet see-through, so shoppers can see exactly what they’re buying. Trouble is, you’re caring only about whether people take your product home; you apparently don’t care about what happens after that. You don’t seem to mind that getting those hard plastic packages open is a dangerous ritual involving scissors, steak knives, band saws and, eventually, blow torches.

“There are ways to have it all. Technology has marched on. You could design the front of your package with the rigid, clear plastic, but seal the back with easy-to-open cardboard. Or you could perforate the seams of your ‘clamshell’ for easy separation without power tools. All it takes is a little imagination and, say, 0.015 cents per unit.”

He says it better than I ever could, and that is exactly the way that I feel.

A spokesperson for the company disagrees for some reason. “The clamshell packaging design of Duo-Care delivers superior protection and acts as an outstanding microbial barrier to provide our customers and buyers with high levels of confidence and assurance that their critical devices will be received intact and secure,” wrote Dana Motley of the PR firm Chandlergroup in Evanston, Illinois.

If you have hypertension as well as diabetes, checking your blood pressure regularly is the first step toward controlling it. But I just don’t know whether the Duo-Care is the best way for most of us to do that.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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