Research has found that diabetics could benefit from using a wearable glucose monitor…

According to new research from the University of East Anglia, wearable devices could help people with diabetes manage their condition and reduce the need for finger-prick blood tests.

The study, in collaboration with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), shows that the devices would be particularly beneficial to older people with memory problems.

“Older people with memory problems can find it more difficult to keep an eye on their blood sugars,” says lead researcher Dr Katharina Mattishent, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School.

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How does it work?

Dr Mattishent says that older methods of checking blood sugars rely on people doing finger-prick tests.

“The newest technology works by allowing a sensor inserted under the skin on the arm to pick up sugar readings all the time for up to two weeks without having to do finger-prick tests.

“The sensor reads sugar levels and transmits them wirelessly to a display on a portable reader held near the sensor – a bit like swiping a contactless bank card.

The device has famously been used by former Prime Minister Theresa May among others.

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The study

Using the Freestyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system, the researchers trialled the device with 12 participants with an average age of 85 who have memory problems or dementia.

The devices captured data across 14 days and participants and carers were interviewed to fnd out how they felt about using the devices.

Why it works well for older people

Dr Mattishent says that it is estimated that up to 20 percent of older people with dementia also have coexisting diabetes.

“It’s a big problem because they may be more prone to low blood sugars (hypoglycaemia) from their medication, but not recognising the warning signs – or what to do if it happens.”

“Our study found that older people and their carers overwhelmingly found the device to be acceptable to use and reassuring to be able to check sugar levels more easily,” says Prof Yoon Loke, also from UEA’s Norwich Medical School.

It didn’t interfere with their day-to-day activities and they were not aware of the device while sleeping at night.

“Carers spoke favourably about the simplicity of the device. And all the participants were positive about recommending it to others.

“One of the carers said that it is very stressful to have to regularly stab her husband’s fingers to get blood samples. He had dementia and diabetes, and couldn’t understand why anyone needed to hurt him with a needle.

“So you can see how something as simple as using this device could really benefit this vulnerable group and their carers.

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Source: The University of East Anglia (UEA)