News Flash: Continuous Glucose Monitors Are Useful!

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I suppose that any time a new kind of medical treatment is developed, it’s important to test its efficacy before deciding whether it’s worth the cash. But nonetheless, I continue to be amazed when I see headlines touting the benefits of CGMs (continuous glucose monitors) for people with diabetes —  like this one, from Endocrine Today, that states that “The Benefits of Continuous Glucose Monitoring [are] Sustained After One Year.”

For the non diabetics in the house, here’s the deal: these days, most people with diabetes monitor their blood sugars by testing their blood, via finger prick and a glucometer, between 4 and 12 times a day. (Four strikes me as ludicrously low — to get anywhere near a good picture, I think you need to do at least 10. But I’m also a control freak.) This method is far superior to what diabetics used to have to do — pee on strips to test their urine — but it still provides a very incomplete picture of what your blood sugar is doing, since there can be hours-long gaps between readings.

Continuous glucometers, on the other hand, are sensors that you stick on your body and wear all the time, and they give you a near-continuous (every few minutes) picture of what your blood sugar is doing. Some models also give you trend arrows, so that if you’re climbing or falling quickly, an alarm will go off — it’s a great way to prevent a high or low before it happens. You also can enter in things like exercise, food and insulin boluses and then chart everything on a graph so that you can really see how all these variables interact with each other. I will complain about my CGM’s adhesive; I will moan about the 10-hour calibration time, or about the size of the sensor and the difficulty of finding a place to wear it (it’s currently on my thigh). But at the end of the day, this is like when a woman complains about her husband’s habit of leaving his dirty socks in the living room — my CGM has foibles, yes, but I love it just the same.

Perhaps I’m blinded by my adoration, but I just don’t see how anyone — even if they’re not diabetic — could claim that a CGM is not helpful (insurance companies, I’m looking at you). Yes, they’re more expensive than test strips. But to me, these endless studies about the effectiveness of CGMs’ ability to help people control their blood sugars can get a little ridiculous — it’s like we figured out a way to grow replacement eyes, but we need to do some studies about how important sight really is before we give them to blind people.  I mean, come on. Obviously CGMs are helpful.

With that said, I hope the insurance agents are reading these articles. Here’s that link again.

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[…] when I went to replace my continuous glucometer sensor last night (the same sensor to which I just declared my undying love). Yes, I know that the user manual for my Abbott Freestyle Navigator CGM says that […]

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