Continuous Glucose Monitoring: Transforming the Lives of Canadians with Diabetes
Sean Zeitz was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1994, at the age of 14. Throughout high school, university, law school, and into his career as a civil and commercial litigator, Sean has devoted a lot of energy to managing his diabetes in a way that could accommodate his high-energy lifestyle. Today, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology is making that a lot easier.
For Sean, the need and desire to be in control of his diabetes meant a heavy regimen of glucometer tests requiring finger pricks, but he was still never satisfied. “No matter how much you measure with a regular device, you can only make inferences about what your blood sugar is doing,” says Sean. “You never really know. This uncertainty really impacted my day-to-day life. It added complexity and delay to my treatment and meant that I was always using guesswork to manage my diabetes.”
When you’re in a field that’s already as difficult and demanding as law, there is really no room for extra challenges. “As my life proceeded into law school and the work force, it created a level of anxiety,” says Sean. “I’d do a finger prick before an exam, but there was no way to know if it was stable or if it was crashing down. I have to write the exam like everyone else in that room, but I’m also struggling with my diabetes at the same time.”
Putting an end to the guessing game
Continuous glucose monitoring technology, using a wearable glucose sensor, has been around for some time, but the most recent devices represent a tremendous improvement in accuracy, comfort, and usability over earlier generations of the technology.
Today’s models, like the iOS and Android-compatible* Dexcom G5® Mobile CGM System released earlier this year, are making it very easy to get accurate real-time insight into blood sugar levels. “The advantage is that you get a good idea of what your blood sugars are doing throughout the day,” explains endocrinologist and diabetes specialist Dr. Amish Parikh. “CGM can provide a trend analysis so you can see if your sugars are going up or down at a certain rate. It can trigger an alarm or warning if your blood sugar is becoming too high or low. This is particularly significant at night when the user isn’t awake to monitor proactively.”
Knowing the direction your blood sugar is heading and how quickly it is changing is critical. If a reading is at the low end of the safe range, for example, you really want to know whether it’s stable or dropping, and a finger prick just can’t provide that. “As a litigation lawyer, I have to be ‘on’ all the time,” says Sean, who now wears the Dexcom G5® Mobile. “I can’t risk going into court with blood sugar that’s low and dropping, because it is not helpful if I have to ask the judge for a break because my blood sugar is crashing.”
Smarter treatment, real results
Since moving to CGM, Sean’s treatment and peace of mind have both improved. “I get the information before the symptoms and I can treat in a well-informed way,” says Sean. “I have help to make decisions on how to manage my diabetes based on real-time information, and that’s a game changer. Since I’ve been on it, my hypoglycemic reactions have been cut by at least 75 percent, probably more.”
Clinical trials have shown that Sean’s results are not unique, with CGM being seen to reduce time spent in hypoglycemia in all age groups.1,2,3 “CGM has dramatically improved the quality of life for my patients with diabetes. I am a strong believer in this technology and how it can positively impact the lives of patients with diabetes,” says Dr. Parikh. “The people for whom it is most useful are those with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes who use an intensive insulin regimen (using injections or a pump), those who experience highly variable blood sugars, and those for whom hypoglycemia is a daily concern. CGM gives you a lot of useful information that offers insight into how exercise, food, stress, and other variables are impacting your blood sugars.”
For anyone with diabetes, knowledge of where their blood sugar is at, and where it’s going, represents the power to take control of their own lives and their own treatment. For those with high-stress and high-performance careers especially, the difference with continuous glucose monitoring can be night and day.
*To view a list of compatible devices, visit www.dexcom.com/compatibility
1 Šoupal J, Petruželková L, Flekač M et al. Comparison of Different Treatment Modalities for Type 1 Diabetes, Including Sensor-Augmented Insulin Regimens, in 52 Weeks of Follow-Up: A COMISAIR Study. Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics. 2016;18(9):532-538.
2 Beck R, Riddlesworth T, Ruedy K, et al. Effect of Continuous Glucose Monitoring on Glycemic Control in Adults with Type 1 Diabetes Using Injections for Insulin Delivery: The DIAMOND Randomized Clinical Trial. [published online January, 24, 2017]. JAMA.
3 Lind M, Polonsky, W, Hirsch, I, et al. Continuous Glucose Monitoring vs Conventional Therapy for Glycemic Control in Adults With Type 1 Diabetes Treated With Multiple Daily Injections – The GOLD Randomized Clinical Trial. [published online January 24, 2017]. JAMA.