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Healthy You

Frontiers in Diabetes Management

Monday, March 28, 2016 8:53 AM

Jerome Alexander, 43, of Glenview, is a family man with a busy career. He also is benefiting from new glucose sensor technology available at NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore). It provides him with instant feedback to manage his Type 2 diabetes.

“It can be difficult to control your blood sugar levels,” said Alexander, who developed diabetes at age 17. “This sensor is a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system. It tells me what’s going on all day long with my blood sugar levels, so I can more proactively control it.”

“The CGM sensor monitors glucose levels in the interstitial fluid directly under the skin every five minutes,” explained NorthShore Endocrinologist Herman Blomeier, MD, who holds an academic title at the Pritzker School of Medicine. “It communicates wirelessly via a transmitter on the sensor to a receiver or monitor, which may include an insulin pump, to help control blood sugar throughout the day.”

In Alexander’s case, the technology has improved his blood sugar variations significantly. In addition to providing information on glucose levels in real time and sending this information to an insulin pump, the innovative technology also gives patients and physicians the opportunity to monitor trends over time and better manage diabetes.

“We used to base treatment decisions on only four or five readings a day,” noted Dr. Blomeier. “But now we have 288 data points per day to see how insulin, exercise and diet impact a patient’s glycemic control.”

According to NorthShore Certified Diabetes Educator Harriet Salzberg, patients using CGM still need to check their blood sugar with a glucose meter a minimum of two to four times a day. “But CGM helps them see a pattern to their blood sugar readings,” she explained, adding that with new technology some patients will be able to use the system with a smartphone or smartwatch.

“This new technology has freed me up,” added Alexander. “With it, I can go about my normal, everyday activities and I don’t have to stop and take a blood sugar reading. Most of all, I don’t have to worry about my diabetes getting out of control.”