Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. The 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report states that more than 29 million people have diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates your blood sugar levels, which can go up and down depending on what you eat. People with type 1 diabetes may experience blood sugar spikes or drops so severe they end up in a coma.
People with diabetes regulate their blood sugar, or blood glucose, levels by giving themselves injections of insulin or by using a pump to deliver the insulin. Insulin pumps also alert users when their blood sugar levels become abnormal.
Now, there’s a new option to help patients with type 1 diabetes monitor blood glucose and adjust insulin delivery based on that data, thanks to the FDA’s approval of the Animas Vibe. The Vibe is a combination insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system.
How does the Vibe work? Users wear the small pump on the outside of the body. The pump delivers insulin 24 hours a day through a catheter inserted under the skin.
Approved for people over the age of 18, the Vibe monitors blood sugar levels every five minutes. The latest glucose readings, as well as glucose level trends over time, are visible on a built-in device screen.
Color-coded trend lines indicate high, low, and normal blood sugar levels. This feature helps users easily recognize how their glucose levels are changing. The trending information can also be downloaded and sent to doctors for review.
The pump is waterproof and users can customize alarms, which signal whether blood sugar levels are high or low.
The CGM sensor can be worn for up to seven days. The system includes a wearable sensor patch, a transmitter, and an insulin pump, which requires its own patch for insulin delivery. It still requires a twice-daily calibration with a finger-stick blood glucose measurement.
Diabetes Expert Gives Thumbs-up to New System
Dr. David Robbins, director of the Diabetes Institute at the University of Kansas Hospital, told Healthline that using a system that combines insulin delivery with continuous glucose monitoring makes managing diabetes less complicated. Insulin pumps can make the process easier for many people.
“Treatment of diabetes with insulin can be very challenging and fraught with severe consequences if errors are made,” said Robbins. “A lifetime of higher than normal blood sugars is associated with increased risks of heart disease, blindness, and kidney failure. In addition, rapid changes in blood sugar also damages the tissues.”
Robbins is also pleased with the system’s technological capabilities. “The monitoring system communicates with the pump wirelessly. This provides users a real-time graphic look at where sugar levels are and in which direction they are trending. This information can help patients anticipate low sugars and correct high sugars by taking extra insulin,” he said.The new device also helps people with diabetes personalize insulin delivery on the basis of specific insulin to carbohydrate ratios.