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New Devices Improve Diabetes Control

Insulin Pump, Shots Equally Effective, but Pump Plus Monitor Is Best

Insulin Pumps, Glucose Monitors

Continuous monitoring devices give blood sugar readings as often as every five minutes, using a sensor attached to the body. The sensor sends results to a display, which is usually worn on a belt.

The device doesn't replace home glucose monitoring but can more closely track minute-to-minute changes in blood glucose. Patients still need to prick their fingers up to four times a day, but those who rely on finger pricks alone may need to stick themselves as many as 10 times a day.

Insulin pumps offer continuous insulin through a catheter placed under the skin around the belly. The pump replaces daily injections, although patients still have to make decisions about how much insulin they need.

The analysis found that insulin pumps and daily injection are similarly effective for controlling blood sugar, leading the researchers to conclude that decisions about which method to choose should include consideration of patient preference and quality of life.

Diabetes specialist Stuart Weinerman, MD, says some of his patients love the new devices while others don't.

Weinerman is an endocrinologist at the North Shore University/Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

"Some people can't stand the idea of wearing a device all the time, whether it is a pump or a glucose monitor," Weinerman tells WebMD. "Others love the high-tech nature of the new devices and the fact that they have a lot more flexibility."

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