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New Insulin Pump Cuts Odds of Overnight Hypoglycemia

Sensor device may ease patient fear of dangerously low blood sugar levels during sleep, experts say


"This is a very real difference for people with type 1 diabetes, because these patients often go to bed in fear of low blood sugar," said Dr. Ronald Tamler, director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center in New York City. He was not involved in the new study.

But he added that it remains to be seen whether patients are agreeable to wearing a sensor along with an insulin pump and whether they can trust the technology.

"Some patients may not be willing to wear a sensor in addition to an insulin pump and entrust themselves to devices that need to work accurately and in harmony to succeed," he said. "It's a matter of practically and trust."

For the study, 247 patients with type 1 diabetes who were subject to hypoglycemia during the night were randomly assigned to the new device or a standard insulin pump for three months.

Patients wore a sensor along with an insulin pump. When the sensor sensed that blood sugar was getting too low overnight, the software was programmed to stop the pump for a short while.

The researchers found that the new device cut the times patients experienced hypoglycemia by 37.5 percent, compared with patients who didn't have the new device.

In addition, patients using the new device had about 32 percent fewer bouts of hypoglycemia during the night and 31.4 percent fewer hypoglycemia events during the day, the researchers found.

Moreover, the device had no effect on blood sugar levels, which were controlled in both groups.

Dr. Spyros Mezitis, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, agreed that with the sensor, "we are one step closer to the artificial pancreas."

"This is an upgrade of the insulin pump and patients can avoid night-time low blood sugar, by using this technology," he said.

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