“This is one of few new treatments in recent decades which significantly reduces blood sugar levels for persons with type 1 diabetes, who are dependent on insulin injections,” notes Marcus Lind, Associate Professor of Diabetology at the department of molecular and clinical medicine, and Chief Physician in Uddevalla.
A total of 161 people took part in the study, from Härnösand in the north to Malmö in the south, each one in need of insulin injections several times per day in order to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
They were randomly selected in different rounds to either use traditional equipment, and prick their finger at least four times per day in order to measure the sugar levels, or use a device which measures the blood sugar continually via a thin filament under the skin on the stomach. A separate unit kept in the pocket would beep or vibrate when the sugar level was to high or too low.
The study lasted 16 months and the patients used each method over a 6-month period, with a four-month “washout period” without assisted treatment between each round.
The blood sugar value, measured using the marker HbA1c, which gives a mean value over a three-month period, dropped by five millimole per mole; a leap which can be considered justification for giving wider access to the treatment.
Previous studies of the technology have been more focused on the verification, over shorter periods, of blood sugar values produced by continual measurement. The fact that the mean sugar levels have been shown to actually decrease is something that can protect the patient group.
The study also shows an increase in treatment satisfaction and well-being. Factors that are important in themselves and which also improve the chances of the treatment working in the long term.
“It’s important how the patients experience the treatment in their everyday lives in terms of their willingness to continue; it mustn’t get too complicated. Quality of life and well-being are also becoming increasingly emphasized in guidelines for diabetes care,” says Marcus Lind.
Citation: Lind, Marcus, William Polonsky, Irl B. Hirsch, Tim Heise, Jan Bolinder, Sofia Dahlqvist, Erik Schwarz et al. “Continuous Glucose Monitoring vs Conventional Therapy for Glycemic Control in Adults With Type 1 Diabetes Treated With Multiple Daily Insulin Injections: The GOLD Randomized Clinical Trial.” Jama 317, no. 4 (2017): 379-387.
Adapted from press release by the University of Gothenburg, Sahlgrenska Academy.