How I Crushed Type 2 Diabetes in Only Weeks and Completely Changed My Outlook on Life

Editor’s note: We found Rey’s remarkable story in the diabetes online community, and asked him if he would share it with us. Rey experienced extraordinary rapid success by following a precise diet and medication regimen immediately after diagnosis with type 2 diabetes. His improvement was incredible, but others making the same changes may not experience the same success. Please speak to your doctor or caregiver before enacting any major health changes of your own.

I’m Rey, and I’m a 44-year old male with a history of high blood pressure and being overweight, but until recently I had no major health issues. Only this past summer I learned that I had dangerously uncontrolled diabetes. Within the span of just a couple of months, I completely changed my diet, started and then stopped glucose-lowering medications, and got my blood sugar back into the normal, healthy range. Here’s my story.

My First Health Scare

My story is ultimately a diabetes story, but there were some bumps along the way that I think are worth including before I jump into the diabetes.

My adventure really began in the summer of 2020. After some stressful life events, I developed a rather constant state of anxiety, which seemed to be preventing me from getting good sleep. Even while using a sedative, I was up at least 4-5 times during the night, every night. I didn’t have a previous history of mental health problems, so this was all new to me. The especially challenging part was that as time passed, lying in bed became a trigger for the anxiety, which made the sleep even harder to come by. I felt like I was just going through the motions to get through life.

Fortunately, after months of stubbornness and sucking it up the best I could, I finally got to the bottom of things. I discovered it was sleep apnea, and started CPAP treatment. The result was truly life-changing, sleep returned to normal, and my anxiety went away 100%.

Life was great and I’d survived and handled my major mid-life health crisis…. or so I thought! Little did I know, but that relief would prove to be short-lived as in the coming months I started to experience a new set of symptoms.

I was at my highest weight yet and my BMI was creeping towards 30. Some reading this will scoff and think “30 is nothing, I’m well above that,” but everyone’s body is a little different and apparently 30 was my personal breaking point.

My fasting blood sugar was over 100 mg/dL, and my doctor said something about pre-diabetes, but she didn’t sound too concerned about it.

The Symptoms

I was again experiencing sleeplessness. Now I was finding that instead of sleep apnea waking me up during the night, my bladder was sure filling up and I was getting up to pee several times a night. Also, I was quite thirsty when this would happen. I did notice it was nights that I’d eat pizza or pasta for dinner that were the worst. Some combination of stubbornness and perhaps denial kept me from taking this too seriously, so I just kept on with things. Besides, this was March 2021 and you didn’t dare go into a medical clinic unless you were on your covid deathbed. Surely, this was no big deal, and getting checked out could wait.

Still, I sensed something was wrong and I reduced the amount of pizza and pasta I was eating for dinner (maybe twice a week instead of five nights a week), eating beans with rice and veggies for dinner instead. In hindsight, not great, but a minor improvement.

The next major symptom arrived in April: blurry vision. At first, I wasn’t worried. I’d gotten LASIK eye surgery done 12 years earlier, and this change seemed like a mild return of my nearsightedness. I was also in my mid-40s, which I’m told is a time where focusing becomes harder and your vision changes.

Then it got really bad: I was on a trip to Florida when I couldn’t read a menu board that was 8 feet in front of me. I had to resort to taking a picture of it with my phone and then looking at that picture to read the menu. Something was majorly wrong!

When I got back from Florida (after some real nerve-wracking and likely dangerous driving), I went in to get my vision checked and received a -2.0 diopters prescription. The optometrist was shocked that I had let my vision get that bad before getting glasses and made a comment about diabetes, but was also of the impression that my vision would change throughout the day as my blood sugar changed. That clearly wasn’t happening to me (turns out it’s more complicated than that).

The last major symptom was that I had been losing weight at a pretty decent clip (5-10 pounds a month). Obviously, this must have been due to cutting back on pizza and pasta, right? Curiously, past attempts at eating better had never been quite this effective, but why question such great progress when you’re on a roll! At this point, it was late April and the earliest I could get in for a check-up was mid-June, so why not ride out another month of weight loss and see how great my labs come back then?

My Diagnosis

A little over a week before the appointment I started researching diabetes online, since I was starting to wonder about what my doctor and optometrist had said. But surely that takes years to develop, right?

Obviously, my “diet” was working since I had now lost 25 pounds this year and weighed less than I did in my 30s. Who knew eating healthy was so easy!

After a little light reading, I quickly realized how wrong I was, that everything that had happened in the last few months was explained perfectly by diabetes, and that the weight loss might have been diabetes rather than my new diet. This was hard to process.

I picked up a blood sugar meter, and on a Friday night fumbled with the thing enough to figure out how to get a reading. I was shocked when the meter read 567 mg/dL. That can’t possibly be right! My girlfriend tried the meter and her result came in at 77 mg/dL. I tested mine again and this time it registered 596 mg/dL!

At this point, it was 11 PM on a Friday night, and my safest course of action would have been to go to the ER, but I figured if high blood sugar hadn’t killed me in the last 3-4 months, it probably wasn’t going to kill me that weekend. I decided to read more about diabetes, give myself a couple of days to get my wits about me, and go into urgent care on Monday. I also continued to test my blood sugar and it seemed to stay in the 300 to 450 mg/dL range that weekend, regardless of what I ate or whether I was eating.

At urgent care my A1c came in at 13.7%, and my fasting blood sugar was 449 mg/dL. Based on my history, I was more likely to have type 2 diabetes (and additional testing would later confirm that). I was prescribed metformin, and advised to take insulin, advice that I wasn’t ready to take.

Rey kept track of his blood sugar measurements from the moment he began testing, before he was diagnosed with diabetes. You can see his girlfriend’s healthy reading, 77 mg/dL, on the first day.

A New Diet

I now understood that the reason I had lost so much weight so quickly was my uncontrolled diabetes, at least 3 months of it!

I immediately cut most high-carb foods out of my diet and subsisted largely on a diet of full-fat cottage cheese, full-fat plain Greek yogurt, hard cheese, nuts, avocadoes, and canned beans with olive oil. I also kept some fruit and berries in my diet initially. Throughout the day I ate random combinations of these foods. I didn’t really prepare them or fancy them up at all with cooking (other than heating the beans in the microwave so they’d be warm).

I knew I had screwed things up, and if there was going to be any hope of reversing the damage I feared I had done to my body I needed to focus. Maybe I would be able to go back to eating pizza, pasta, and all those delicious carb-filled foods that I loved someday, but it was clear now wasn’t the time for that.

I’d certainly thrown in the towel on diets plenty of times before and gone back to eating like crap, but this time it felt like there was a gun held to my head, and quitting wasn’t an option. Perhaps I’m being overly dramatic about this, and perhaps it wasn’t the healthiest outlook, but it’s how I saw things and it got me through the first weeks where I was at my highest level of motivation.

I wasn’t using a particular diet system I had found on the internet or in a book, it was just me trying to think of all the foods (as a vegetarian) that I normally ate that were lower on the glycemic index, and sticking to those. Frustratingly, there seemed to be a lot of disagreement online in regards to what the “best” diet was for a diabetic, but I’ll come back to that later.

The Right Medications

With this diet and metformin, my blood sugar still ranged from about 250 to 400 mg/dL that first week. My blood sugar really needed to come down since the longer it remained elevated, the greater my risk for diabetes-related complications. Clearly, a week of my new diet and metformin wasn’t enough, and I was more open to exploring what else could be done.

When I saw my primary doctor after that week, she wanted to put me on insulin too, in order to stabilize my blood sugar. Although I knew that insulin would have rapidly brought my blood sugar down to normal levels, using it would have made it difficult for me to gauge if my dietary changes were getting the job done.

Through my research, I had become convinced that SGLT2 inhibitors were the only class of drugs that made any sense for a person with new uncontrolled type 2 diabetes to take (in addition to metformin). Normally in uncontrolled diabetes, your kidneys excrete sugar to your urine as a means of keeping your blood sugar from getting dangerously high, but that effect doesn’t really kick in until your blood sugar levels are way up there. With an SGLT2 inhibitor, your kidneys are just doing that all the time, keeping your blood sugar down in the process. The real beauty of this is instead of insulin, which causes your body to store that excess sugar (only delaying the problem), once you pee out the excess sugar, it’s gone forever.

I asked my doctor for a referral to an endocrinologist and a prescription for an SGLT2 inhibitor instead. She didn’t have much experience with SGLT2s and started talking about other drugs, but she could see I had a pile of notes with me on different drug classes, the research I had done on them. I think she also realized that although she was the one to write the prescription, that I was ready to argue my case.

As soon as I started taking the SGLT2 inhibitor my blood sugar came down almost immediately.

On Farxiga, within days my blood sugar dropped to the 100 to 150 mg/dL range. I had to pee a little more at first too, which suggested the drug was doing exactly what it was supposed to. After a few days, I found I wasn’t peeing any more than normal, which was probably due to my fairly low-carb diet.

[Editor’s note: Rey had an incredibly positive experience with SGLT2 inhibitors, but they are not for everyone, and do carry side effects and risks, especially when combined with low-carbohydrate diets. Please speak to your doctor about changing your medication.]

This was a great improvement over where I was before, but like every newly-minted diabetic I had dreams of reversing my diabetes and getting my blood sugar back to “normal.” I obviously wasn’t there yet and just because you want something doesn’t mean it’s possible or realistic, but I was holding onto that dream.

Remission is a very controversial topic. Most ADA and official-looking literature I found said that diabetes was a progressive disease. As time passes, more drugs are required to maintain the same degree of control, and some pretty awful complications occur as it gets worse and worse. That was a rather depressing outlook. If it all falls apart in the end, why not just go back to enjoying all those carb-rich foods that I love and enjoy whatever time I’ve got left? Fortunately, I didn’t fall into that trap, but I have to imagine many do.

Intermittent Fasting

I was aware of internet doctors out there on the fringes saying type 2 diabetes can be reversed and people can manage through diet alone, without drugs. Are they selling false hope, similar to new-age healers selling energy crystals to cure cancer? Most of them are talking about low-carb and “keto,” which I’d previously assumed to be just another random fad diet. “They’re obviously quacks,” I thought. I figured that American Diabetes Association was most certainly correct about diabetes being progressive, just giving me the cold hard truth. But just for the sake of argument, I decided to hear the quacks out first.

Of the doctors on Youtube, the first to really suck me in was Dr. Jason Fung, a Canadian nephrologist. He had a very intuitive model for explaining type 2 diabetes, and used research on treating the condition with gastric bypass surgery (which has been highly successful) as a starting point. He suggested a low-carb diet combined with fasting in various forms. Hey, I’m already doing the low-carb thing and it seems to be helping. Maybe fasting would be the next nudge I needed.

I started with 3 set meals a day (eating between 7:30 AM and 7:30 PM, and then fasting from 7:30 PM until 7:30 AM the next morning). Around the time I started Farxiga, I moved into the next phase of fasting, which was to skip breakfast and then eat only lunch and dinner (eat at 12 PM and then 8 PM). To my surprise, I no longer felt hunger when I wasn’t eating. I now know that’s a common benefit to the keto diet, but if someone had tried to tell me about that a year earlier, I would have thought they were crazy. Also, I didn’t really know I was doing keto. I was just doing a tighter version of the diet I’d explained earlier, with less fruit and no beans.

I completed my first full-day fast the weekend after starting Farxiga. I didn’t eat anything at all starting Friday after dinner until around 1 PM on Sunday, for a 40+ hour fast. Again, Farxiga had gotten my blood sugar down to under 150 mg/dL on a regular basis, but this was the kick that finally got me back under 100 mg/dL. Throughout Friday it was testing 130 to 150 mg/dL, Saturday morning I was at 144 mg/dL, but as Saturday dragged on and my fast continued I started getting multiple readings under 100 mg/dL. My Sunday morning fasting result was 96 mg/dL and, it got as low as 79 mg/dL on Sunday afternoon before I finally broke my fast. To my surprise, breaking my fast only bumped me to 119 mg/dL and 5 hours later my blood sugar was back down to 82 mg/dL. Seeing this progress felt truly amazing and it was only 16 days after finding out I had diabetes!

Maintenance

Rey’s blood sugars improved rapidly and remarkably with the right combination of diet and medication.

Of course, you don’t eat your way to diabetes in two weeks and you don’t undo your diabetes in two weeks either. I was taking 2,000 mg of metformin a day as well as the SGLT2 inhibitor. The week after my big fast, my fasting blood sugar readings would go back over 100 mg/dL, but I kept plugging away, only eating two larger meals a day during a narrow set of eating hours. I also tested the high-carb waters with a 6-inch Subway sandwich – it spiked my blood sugar to 190 mg/dL, which is much higher than a non-diabetic would likely hit from that meal. That helped knock me back down a peg and remind me that I still had diabetes, after all.

The next weekend I noticed that my blood sugar numbers were starting to come down to under 100 mg/dL without extended fasting. I also noticed that foods that previously spiked my blood sugar a great deal were now spiking it much less. On June 28th (day 24 of knowing I had diabetes and 13 days after starting my SGLT2) I decided to stop taking Farxiga and see what effect it would have. This was not a responsible decision, as you should always consult with your doctor before discontinuing medication, but with my improved blood sugar levels, I questioned if Farxiga was still doing anything for me. It turned out my guess was correct. There was no significant change in fasting or post-meal blood sugar readings in the days that followed, and my type 2 diabetes was now well-controlled via just diet and metformin!

About a week later I started wearing a Freestyle Libre 2 to get a broader picture of my blood sugar trends, and for convenience. My readings were still in the 80-90 mg/dL range throughout the day, with small bumps up over 100 mg/dL after a meal. When I finally was due for my appointment with an endocrinologist to discuss my diabetes treatment, the feel of the visit could best be summed up as “why are you here?” My data showed that my average blood sugar in the previous 10 days had been 95 mg/dL, which would extrapolate to a 4.9% A1C (compared to the 13.7% result when first tested). This is, of course, only an estimate. And my blood sugar had only been well controlled for 2-3 weeks at this point.

Blood sugar wasn’t the only improvement either over last year’s numbers: total cholesterol dropped from 238 mg/dL to 172 mg/dL, with HDL (“good cholesterol”) fairly steady from 64 to 62 mg/dL. LDL (calculated) dropped from 141 to 90 mg/dL. Triglycerides dropped from 165 to 102 mg/dL. The endocrinologist agreed that I no longer needed Farxiga and indicated there really wasn’t a reason for me to see her again, but that I was free to set up another appointment if things changed.

My Best Path Forward

Since then, I’ve done more reading on the keto diet and feel that’s my best path forward to continue to maintain my health, both in terms of diabetes and beyond. I’ve improved enough that I no longer wear a CGM or perform finger sticks to check blood sugar on a regular basis, only checking maybe once a week “just to be sure.” Although I’ve tested out eating some of my old high-carb favorites and been impressed by how much less they spike my blood sugar now, I’m no longer interested in eating them on a regular basis, which is surprising to me. I’ve also found I can sleep through the night just fine without my CPAP machine due to the 35 pounds of weight I have lost from my peak of 215 lbs. The sleep apnea isn’t completely gone, so I still wear the mask most nights, but it appears to be dialed back from severe to mild.

It’s a very weird feeling: when I first found out I had diabetes I wanted nothing more than to continue eating the foods I loved and found comfort in. I felt like something had been stolen from me and feared that my body was permanently broken. Why should other people be able to eat what they want to, and I can’t? It felt very unfair and I really wanted there to be a drug or a treatment that would let me eat how I wanted to. Now that I’ve immersed myself in a better understanding of just how bad those foods were for me, I view things very differently.

I share my story not to lord my results over you if you’ve been less successful with your diabetes. I got really lucky, finding good dietary advice quickly after my diagnosis. Sadly, much of the official guidance out there seems sure to fail. I was also lucky with my uncontrolled diabetes “helping” with the first 25-30 pounds of weight loss.

I no longer have aches and pains when I get up out of bed or have to roll a certain way to avoid them, my memory has improved quite a bit and I’m no longer struggling to recall things I was just told, as I did with high blood sugar levels. I have so much more energy and stamina rather than feeling lethargic or struggling to complete physical activities. It’s like I’m in my 20s all over again (except for a little gray hair)! The downside is I now know if I go back to a lifestyle of enjoying carbohydrate-rich foods, things will go poorly for me, but as long as I don’t, I get to enjoy life so much more than I had before. And there are plenty of delicious foods that aren’t packed with carbs that I’m free to enjoy.

I think diabetes has been a net positive for me, as strange as that sounds. The me of today is very different than the me of a year ago.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

How Two Irish Brothers with Type 1 Diabetes Brew Their Own Zero-Sugar Beer

Beer has a special place among the foods and beverages that are problematic for people with diabetes. Enjoy a few cans or pints and the carbohydrate content can push your blood sugar way up … just before the alcohol brings you back down with a thud. While there are lower-carb beers available, it’s mostly “lite” megabrews, the type of stuff that the beer lover might find thin and tasteless.

As exciting as the explosion of the craft beer industry has been, those delicious, lovingly-made microbrews can be even more trouble. The more flavorful the beer, the higher the carbohydrate count is likely to be. And the smaller the brewery, the less likely you’ll have any idea how many carbs are in a bottle.

Beer lover Seán Deeney had never given much thought to beer’s sugar content until last spring, May 2020. That’s when, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

“I only figured that out because I’d just been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease a couple of months before, in February. So, it was not a great year.”

Seán, age 23, lives in Dublin. He’s just completed his university degree. And despite the incredible bad health luck, he’s bounced back pretty quickly.

His transition to life with diabetes was smooth in part because he was already fairly familiar with the disease: his brother James had also been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, only a few years previous.

Actually, it was James that first alerted Seán to the likely meaning of his symptoms. James used his own blood sugar meter on his brother, and “it was way up, above 20 mmol/L [360 mg/dL].” By the time Seán went into the hospital, he was in the beginnings of ketoacidosis.

“But it wasn’t even too bad. I kind of had a general idea of all the stuff you have to do, how you take insulin, how you check your blood sugars. And it was helpful to have someone I could ask all the time.”

The two had already been collaborating on homebrewed beers, and with each now sharing notes on diabetes management, they were bound to start talking about diabetes-friendly beer.

“My brother has been brewing his own beer for years, and he worked in a brewery as well, Carlingford Brewing Co. We’ve made all sorts of types of beers. Basically anything you can think of, we’ve at least made an attempt at doing.”

“It was only a few months ago that I started really liking these brut beers. It’s a really dry style of beer, so it isn’t very sweet, and I’d wanted to do one for a while, so we looked up how you actually go about doing them. But we didn’t know before we looked it up that there was almost no sugar in them.”

“It turns out it’s basically similar to a normal beer, except you put in glucoamylase, an enzyme that breaks down the complex sugars into more basic sugars.”

“Normally, the reason that the beers have sugar in them – which is what will mess with your blood sugar levels – is that there are unfermentable sugars that remain in the beer, sugars that the yeast isn’t able to convert into alcohol. It’s just a byproduct of how you make it. But this enzyme glucoamylase actually breaks down these unfermentable sugars and makes them into fermentable sugars, so the yeast can convert all of the sugar into alcohol, and there will be no sugar left in the beer at all.

“We were looking at this and thinking, ‘If there’s no sugar left in the beer, surely it shouldn’t affect your glucose levels.’ So we tried one out, and it worked! You can go and drink eight pints of it and it won’t affect your blood sugars at all. Neither myself nor my brother has seen levels rising from drinking it.”

A warning – please don’t take this as an endorsement to drink eight pints of beer, which is probably a bad idea, diabetes or not. Seán (who is still in the honeymoon period) and James have never noticed their blood sugars drop after drinking beer, but your experience may significantly vary. It’s well-known that alcohol, which prevents the liver from releasing glucose the way it normally does, can cause blood sugar drops and dangerous hypoglycemia, especially when taken in excess. I cautioned to Seán that his own experience might change over the years, too.

Seán Deeney, enjoying his beer

To be clear, Seán hasn’t had his beer scientifically analyzed or anything. He’s not a chemist. But he’s convinced that his brut homebrew has significantly less sugar than any other beer style he’s tried, if not absolutely zero. It’s been nothing but steady blood sugar lines for both brothers:

“We both have CGMs. He has the Dexcom, I have the Libre. You can really see the lines, and it just won’t go up at all.”

Brut beers are usually done in a clean, bitter, highly fizzy IPA style, almost like a beery champagne, but Seán has tried the glucoamylase in other recipes as well.

“Normally it’s only a pale ale or IPA that people put this enzyme into. But I really like German wheat beers. So I decided I’d try and make a wheat beer with this enzyme as well.”

“It did exactly what it was supposed to do. You end up with no sugar at the end, and a really tasty beer. So I’ve been doing it with a few others – a rye, and a Kolsch, and all the sugars completely ferment out.”

“We’ve had some fun in naming them as well. The first one, the IPA style, we call it Insulin, because it keeps the levels down. The wheat that I like to make we have now called Diawheaties.”

And his non-diabetic friends approve:

“Everyone seems to like it. They tend to be quite nice, easy-drinking beers. We wouldn’t make them just for the zero sugar if they were no good. They’re as good as the normal beers.”

“It’s really handy. It’s one less thing to worry about.”

 

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Rush for COVID Vaccine Hinders Diabetes Tech Advancements

Modern science is amazing. The COVID-19 pandemic, which is still shaking the world as we know it, is quickly getting controlled due to fast scientific progress and the vaccine rollout (in the United States, at least).

Having an effective vaccine come to market within a year of the appearance of a novel disease is unheard of; most medicines take decades for adequate approval processes within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be completed. This feat is incredible.

That being said, with all of the rush to get a vaccine to the masses, the FDA pushed the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines literally to the front of the approval line, delaying other important medical and technological advancements, including those related to diabetes.

While the vaccine did (and should!) take precedent here, the delays have been tough for people with diabetes in many ways. 

The head of the FDA’s device center, Jeff Shuren, described a “tsunami” of product applications from companies hoping to join the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those applications include over 1,200 submissions for products like diagnostic tests, ventilators, and digital technology, all of which have slowed their work in other diseases, including diabetes.

Shuren went on to say that review times had begun to increase amid growing backlogs due to the high volume. 

The agency is trying to make as much space as possible to approve COVID-19 related vaccines, medicine, and technology quickly to end the pandemic, which has taken precedence over almost everything else. Experts suspect that the FDA may not be able to meet its own timelines going forward.

In addition, lockdowns and social distancing regulations halted clinical trials and product releases. It’s been a tough year for diabetes tech firms to get much done.

The following products, and their release dates, have been most affected by the pandemic:

Senseonics’ 180-Day Eversense Glucose Monitor

The Eversense continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is a device implanted under the skin that lasts for 90 days. The newest version of their CGM system aims to double its lifespan to 180 days without changing a sensor.

What was supposed to be released in early 2021 now faces delays of up to two months for its application to the FDA while the agency tasks its staff with emergency reviews of coronavirus tests and other medical devices. The new release date of the model is scheduled for mid-2021.

The Omnipod 5 (Originally “Horizon”)

Insulet’s Omnipod 5 system, which utilizes CGM data to make automated adjustments to basal insulin throughout the day, will be the company’s first hybrid-closed loop system.

Similar to the T-slim Control IQ system, this insulin pump will provide mobile app control and insulin dosing from a smartphone, eliminating the need to carry their hallmark Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM) around to control the release of insulin.

While significantly delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Insulet said during its Nov. 4, 2020 investor update call that it had recently finished its clinical trial and was finalizing its FDA submission.

They hope to launch their product by June of 2021.

Medtronic 780G

Also known as the Advanced Hybrid-Closed Loop (AHCL) system, this system will improve upon its first iterations of the hybrid-closed loop system, the 670g and 770g. Hoping to seek approval for adults and children as young as two, this system includes:

  • A CGM sensor that will require just one calibration on the first day of wear and no further calibrations after that
  • Automatic correction bolus delivery every 5 minutes, in conjunction with CGM readings, that can automatically bolus for missed meal doses.
  • A lower glucose target range, adjustable between 100-120 mg/dL
  • Different insulin duration times, to adjust for the “tail” of your insulin (eg, Fiasp vs. Humalog)
  • Built-in Bluetooth to share data and provide remote software updates

Due to the pandemic, the approval for this device has been delayed, but Medtronic confirmed that it had submitted its application for review to the FDA in February, 2021.

They hope to have a commercial launch sometime in 2021.

Dexcom G7

The much-anticipated Dexcom G7 continuous glucose monitor (CGM) was also delayed due to the pandemic, but it should be worth the wait. You’ll no longer need to buy separate transmitters; each sensor is a complete and disposable transmitter/sensor integrated system. Some other great features include:

  • No calibrations, much like the G6
  • At the start, wear time will be 10 days, but eventual use will include a 14-15 day feature, also without any calibrations
  • Smaller and thinner: the newest CGM will be 60% smaller than the G6
  • One hour warm-up period

Dexcom CEO Kevin Sayer said that the company eventually plans to have different versions of the G7 for different people.

For example, people with type 2 diabetes who don’t use insulin (or even the general public) might opt for a much simpler interface than people with type 1 diabetes, who will want all of the alarms and settings.

Abbott Freestyle Libre 3

For years, the FreeStyle Libre from Abbott Diabetes was a considered Flash Glucose Monitor (FGM), because it only reported blood sugar levels whenever a user scanned their sensor with a receiver or smartphone.

That will change with the new edition: The Freestyle Libre 3 will function as a real-time CGM, because it won’t require sensor scanning to get a “flash” of blood glucose data. It will instead provide trends and graphs to track blood sugars throughout the day.

The Libre 3 generates real-time blood sugar readings every minute (as opposed to Dexcom’s every 5 minutes), displaying the result on a mobile app on your smartphone. This version also has optional high and low blood sugar alarms, a feature introduced with the Libre 2 in 2020.

Additionally, the sensor is much smaller and thinner (a 70% size reduction), and is kinder to the earth, using 41% less plastic overall.

The Libre 3 received global approval in September 2020. The timeline in the US has been pushed backwards, but with clinical trials now complete, we’ll likely see the Libre 3 applications submitted to the FDA mid-2021.

While the hustle for an effective COVID-19 vaccine has been nothing short of miraculous, people with diabetes don’t want to wait any longer!

Hopefully, with the hastened release of the vaccine, we can see more diabetes technology hit the market in 2021. 

Source: diabetesdaily.com

So You Got a CGM – Now What?

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Katie Mahoney, Hanna Gutow, and Diana Isaacs

If you just got a continuous glucose monitoring system, you may be wondering how to use it most effectively and how to understand your glucose data. Read our tips, tricks, and things to consider.

Congratulations – you got a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), an excellent tool to support diabetes management. Hopefully you’re feeling optimistic and excited that you have the opportunity to use this technology.

It’s most likely that you and your healthcare team decided that using a CGM is the optimal way for you to manage your diabetes. Perhaps you were given a prescription for a personal CGM. Or maybe you’re trying CGM as part of Dexcom’s Hello Dexcom program (a free ten-day trial), through Abbott’s MyFreestyle program (a free 14-day trial), or as part of Medtronic’s CGM Discount Access program. You might also be trying professional CGM, which is owned by your healthcare clinic and worn on a short-term basis.

If you haven’t yet been able to get CGM, ask your healthcare team if you can get a trial device or get a prescription. CGM is recommended for anyone with diabetes who takes mealtime insulin. While many people with diabetes currently don’t have access to CGM, we’re hopeful that more and more individuals will be able to use this technology in the future. Regardless of what brings you to using a CGM, we’ve created a three-part guide to help you get started, including tips, tricks, and considerations.

Click to jump down to a section:

Part 1: Before you apply your CGM

Learn the basics.

Before you start using your CGM, it can be helpful to understand its basic features. Continuous glucose monitors (CGM) measure the body’s glucose (or sugar) levels by sensing the glucose present in tissue fluid (also called interstitial fluid). While a blood glucose meter (BGM) provides a measurement of the blood glucose level at a specific moment in time (when you prick your finger), CGMs provide a new glucose level every one to five minutes – depending on the device, that’s 288 to 1,440 times per day. A CGM provides a constant stream of information on glucose levels, trends, and patterns.

A CGM can either be transcutaneous (it goes through your skin) or implanted (it lies under your skin). CGMs require three basic parts:

  1. A sensor that monitors real-time glucose levels under your skin.
  2. A transmitter that sits on top of the sensor and sends glucose information to a smartphone app, reader, or receiver. In transcutaneous systems, the sensor and transmitter are connected as one small on-body device. Some transmitters are disposable with the sensor while others require an additional step to attach. In implanted systems, the transmitter is attached to the skin and can be removed without harming the sensor below the skin.
  3. A smartphone app, reader, or receiver to collect and display your data.

CGMs have a variety of features that differ by brand and model, including the amount of time the CGM needs to “warm up” before glucose readings are available, how long you can wear a CGM sensor before needing to replace it, and alarms that alert you to highs and lows. You can learn more about CGM devices here. For brand-specific resources and information, click here to jump down.

Personal CGM vs. Professional CGM

The CGMs that we just described are called personal CGMs – they are owned by the person with diabetes and used for a long period of time. They are available as real-time CGMs, where the data can be continuously viewed, or as intermittently-scanned CGMs, where information is recorded all of the time, but you need to scan the sensor to view the data.

Another type of CGM is called “professional CGM.” Professional CGMs are given to someone with diabetes for a short session (usually one to two weeks) to better understand that person’s glucose levels. After the wear period, the person will review the data with their healthcare professional. This can provide insights that inform the person’s diabetes treatment, and it can help healthcare professionals recommend therapy and lifestyle recommendations that lead to better glucose management.

Some professional CGMs have a real-time mode, meaning that the user can see their glucose levels while wearing the device. Other professional CGMs have a “blinded” mode. Blinded CGM means that you cannot look at their glucose values on-demand; instead, all of your glucose data is stored and shared with your healthcare professional. This can help your healthcare team identify hypoglycemia (or low blood sugar levels). If you get a blinded professional CGM, your healthcare team will analyze the data and discuss it with you once your wear period is complete.

While long-term, real-time CGM is most effective for day-to-day diabetes management, especially for insulin users, professional CGM can be an important tool for people who are not using personal CGM. Periodic use of CGM can help people learn the effects of food and physical activity on glucose levels, even for those not taking any diabetes medications.

Reflect on your goals, know your targets, and make a plan to respond to highs and lows.

It can be helpful to reflect on your CGM goals, set your glucose targets, make plans for responding to your glucose readings, and decide with whom you want to share your data:

  • Reflect on your CGM goals. Perhaps you want to use CGM to prevent hypoglycemia using its alert system, or to prevent hyperglycemia and increase your Time in Range, or to manage glucose during exercise. Or, maybe you and your healthcare team are going to use professional CGM for two weeks to explore how your lifestyle habits affects your glucose levels. Regardless, the ultimate goal of CGM is to improve your diabetes management.
  • Know your personal glucose targets and make a plan with your healthcare team for how you’ll respond to hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. Knowing your target glucose range is important for responding to your real-time glucose values. For most people with diabetes the target range is 70-180mg/dl – learn more about Time in Range goals here. Make a plan that incorporates glucose trend arrows from your CGM to help you prevent big spikes out of range. Here are some prompts for you to discuss with your healthcare team:
    • What is my glucose target when I wake up and before meals?
    • What should my glucose level be two hours after a meal? If it is above that value, what actions should I take to bring my glucose levels down?
    • What is my glucose target before bed?
    • What high glucose level should I try to avoid? What should I do if my glucose gets that high?
    • What low glucose level should I try to avoid? What should I do if my glucose gets that low? What should I do if my glucose levels are trending down?

Part 2: Applying your CGM

Connect the CGM to the app and set the system up.

Download the mobile app associated with your CGM system if available. If you’re using a receiver (Dexcom device) or reader (Libre device), make sure it’s charged daily. The CGM should come with instructions for applying the sensor (every seven, ten, or 14 days) and pairing the app, reader, or receiver with your sensor and transmitter. If you have an implanted CGM, it will be applied by a healthcare professional and can last up to 90 days. To jump to brand-specific instructions and tutorials, click here. To learn about CGM adhesives and tips for keeping your CGM on, check out Adam Brown’s suggestions on the topic.

Once your system is set up, your CGM will need to “warm up” before you can see your data. Different models have different warm-up periods, but this will generally take one to two hours, after which your data will be accessible either directly (Dexcom, Guardian, Eversense) or by scanning your sensor (FreeStyle Libre). The warm up period for the implantable Eversense system is 24 hours.

For many people starting to use a CGM, video tutorials can be quite helpful. If you have the opportunity, it’s good to meet with a diabetes care and education specialist or your local pharmacist (if picking up your CGM from a pharmacy). Here are set-up and application tips and tutorials for your CGM:

Part 3: Understanding your CGM data

Once you’re set up with your CGM and the warm up period is complete, you can access your data. There are two types of data you’ll want to pay attention to: real-time data and past data.

Interpret your real-time data.

Depending on the CGM brand you’re using, you can either access your glucose data at any time by looking at an app on your phone, your smart watch, or your receiver. For those using an intermittently-scanned CGM, you can view your glucose levels by scanning your sensor with your smart phone or reader. Looking at your data can feel overwhelming at first, so we recommend focusing on two aspects of your real-time data:

  • First, look at your CGM glucose value. Is it in your target range? If your glucose level is out of range, which steps of your plan should you follow?

If you’re experiencing hypoglycemia in particular, make sure you act right away to increase your glucose levels.

  • Second, look at the trend arrow. Your CGM provides a “trend arrow,” to tell you the direction and speed with which your glucose values are changing. The trend arrow is helpful for understanding what’s going on and how you can respond. For example, if your glucose value is 90 mg/dl and your trend arrow shows that your glucose levels are going down, you may need to take action to prevent hypoglycemia; if your glucose value is 90 mg/dl and your trend arrow shows your glucose levels are increasing, you are likely not going to develop hypoglycemia.

Trend arrows can help with premeal insulin dosing, before and after exercise, before bed, and to understand where your glucose will be trending in the next 30 minutes. Trend arrows are particularly beneficial when used with insulin on board (short-acting insulin that was recently taken for food or to correct a high glucose level and is still working in the body). For example, if your trend arrows are going down and you have insulin on board from an insulin dose given two hours previously, your risk of hypoglycemia is even greater.

For those not using insulin, trend arrows can help understand how different foods and activities affect glucose levels. For example, if a person sees that the arrow is rising rapidly after a certain meal or snack, they can go for a walk to try to bring it down. It may also signal that next time you should consider a smaller portion size or try to add protein or fat to prevent glucose levels from rising as quickly.

Each CGM has a slightly different interpretation of the arrows, but here’s a general idea of what the trend arrows can tell you.

data

Image source: diaTribe

We recommend working with your healthcare team to decide how often to check your glucose levels. Many people benefit from checking glucose when waking up, before meals, before physical activity, and at bedtime. Some people benefit from checking one to two hours after meals. A person should also check their CGM any time they feel symptoms of high or low glucose. CGM alarms are especially helpful for monitoring glucose levels as they change – more on this below.

Interpret your past data.

Once you’ve used your CGM for a few days, you can see your recent daily trends and the amount of time you’re spending in the target range (70-180 mg/dl). This is also called retrospective data. It is beneficial to review your glucose data regularly to understand how your lifestyle – like the food you eat, your exercise habits, your stress levels, and medications you use – affects your glucose levels. Look at your glucose levels over the past two weeks, one month, and three months; talk with your healthcare team about trends that you are noticing and how they might be addressed. Learn about the many factors that affect glucose here.

During diabetes care appointments, your healthcare team can view this data in an Ambulatory Glucose Profile (AGP) report and use it to talk with you about how your diabetes management is going and any potential adjustments to your care plan. This should be a collaborative discussion between you and your healthcare team about how your diabetes data compares to your management goals and what changes could be made.

Each CGM system offers a standardized one-page report, called an ambulatory glucose profile (AGP). The AGP includes three important components:

  1. CGM key metrics
  2. 24-hour profile
  3. Daily glucose patterns

Although there are many ways to view your glucose data, the AGP report often has all of the information that you need. We’ll explain the three main pieces below. To learn more, read our in-depth piece on understanding your AGP report: “Making the Most of CGM: Uncover the Magic of Your Ambulatory Glucose Profile.”

CGM key metrics

More green, less red.

The time in range bar shows the percentage of time you spend in five glycemic ranges:

  • data

    Image source: diaTribe

    Time in Range: glucose levels between 70-180 mg/dl

  • Time Below Range: glucose levels below 70 mg/dl
  • Time in severe hypoglycemia: glucose levels below 54 mg/dl
  • Time Above Range: glucose levels above 180 mg/dl
  • Time in severe hyperglycemia: glucose levels above 250 mg/dl

Your goal is to grow the green bar and shrink the red bars – in other words, increase Time in Range and decrease time Below Range and time in severe hypoglycemia. See more on Time in Range goals and standard targets.

24-hour profile, also known as Ambulatory Glucose Profile (AGP).

chart

Image source: diaTribe

How do you figure out how to change your diabetes management to increase your Time in Range and decrease your Time Below and Above Range? That’s where the 24-hour profile is helpful, which shows your daily glucose trends across the full 24-hour day.

  • Understanding what the 24-hour profile shows: The black line represents your median glucose level throughout the day based on data from a set period of your CGM use (e.g., the last two weeks). The blue shaded areas help show how much your glucose levels vary at different points in the day.
  • Using the data: Compare different times of day to see what might be influencing your glucose numbers. For example, while the person shown above has glucose readings that vary greatly at 3pm (indicated by a very wide shaded area), their 8am glucose numbers are much more consistent (the shaded area at 8am is narrower), despite being higher. This person also regularly sees a spike in sensor glucose readings at around 9am. What’s causing that increase? Maybe it’s a higher carbohydrate breakfast choice, forgetting to bolus, not bolusing early enough, or not accounting for all the carbs in breakfast. Reflecting on what is causing a spike or valley can help you make behavior changes to reduce fluctuations and increase your Time in Range.
  • chart

    Image source: diaTribe

    The goal: The overall goal is to keep your glucose levels in your target range without big spikes or valleys, sometimes called “flat, narrow, in range” (FNIR). In the AGP above, the green box represents the user’s target sensor glucose range (70-180 mg/dl). While the user stays in range overnight and in the afternoon, they tend to see spikes in the morning and evening. With the goal of FNIR in mind, you can look at your long-term data and ask, what’s making it possible for me to stay in range? What is making my glucose spike or fall?

  • The good news is the goal for most people is to spend 70% or more Time in Range. However, increasing your Time in Range by even 5% (an extra hour per day in range!) can be helpful. You don’t have to reach perfection to improve clinical outcomes.

Daily glucose profiles.

With your trend data, you also can see your daily 24-hour glucose profiles from the last two weeks. The figures show the target range (70-180 mg/dl) in gray, spikes above 180 mg/dl (hyperglycemia) in yellow, and valleys below 70 mg/dl (hypoglycemia) in red. Viewing the data day by day can help you evaluate how specific factors and behaviors impacted your glucose values on a certain day.

data

Image source: diaTribe

To make the most out of your daily glucose profiles, it can be helpful to log your daily food and exercise to compare with your glucose profile and see which behaviors help you stay in range and which ones tend to make you go out of range.

A helpful tool when reviewing your data with your healthcare team is called DATAA. Which stands for:

  • Data – look at your diabetes data together
  • Assess Safety – Look for and try to solve Time Below Range (hypoglycemia) first
  • Time in Range – Discuss what’s working and how to replicate that by looking for the times of day or the days of the week when Time in Range was the highest
  • Areas to Improve – Note when you spent more Time Above Range (hyperglycemia) and discuss ways to reduce this
  • Action Plan – Develop an action plan together

Other Tips, Tricks, and Considerations

1. Exercise & your CGM

To learn about how to use your CGM before, during, and after exercise, check out our article “Exercise Well with Your CGM – Recommendations, Glucose Trends, and Strategies.”

An important note about exercising with a CGM: There can be a difference between CGM glucose measurements and BGM glucose measurements due to what we call a “lag.” Changes in glucose levels in interstitial fluid are not seen as quickly as they are in the blood. At rest, the interstitial glucose lags about five minutes behind the blood glucose; in situations when glucose changes rapidly, such as during exercise, lag time can increase up to 24 minutes. This means that your CGM readings aren’t always going to be accurate during exercise. This lag can also occur outside of exercise, any time your glucose levels are rising or falling quickly.

2. How to make CGM alarms your friend

Adam Brown has written about how it can be helpful to think about your CGM as a partner in your diabetes management, rather than a nag that points out when you’re not in range. Alarms can be useful tools. By alerting you to current or predicted highs and lows, as well as rate of change, you can increase your Time in Range and see your 24-hour glucose profile become flatter, narrower, and more in range. You can personalize your CGM alarm settings to your preferred thresholds or turn them off completely (though some devices won’t let you turn off an urgent low alarm at 55 mg/dl). It’s helpful to work with your diabetes care team to determine your individualized alarm settings.

3. Sharing data with friends, family, and care-partners

The ability to share your real-time glucose data with your care-partners and loved ones is a huge plus of using CGM – your support network can help you track your glucose levels and keep them in range. At the same time, sharing your data with others makes some people nervous and self-conscious. Decide who you want to share your data with and talk with that person about boundaries and how you want to communicate about your data. For more on how to approach these conversations, check out Kerri Sparling’s “To Share or Not to Share: My Approach to Diabetes Data,” and “How to Coach Your Care-Partner on CGM Data.”

4. How to talk to your healthcare team about your CGM

Now that you’re using a CGM, talking with your healthcare team about your CGM data should become a key part of every visit.

Ahead of the visit: To help visits go smoothly, many healthcare professionals will ask you to upload your CGM data before you come into the office (or before your telehealth appointment) so they can review the data and be prepared to talk with you. Learn about uploading your data here. Note: some CGM systems upload automatically once connected to the clinic’s data portal. It’s also helpful to look over your data – like your AGP report – and come up with questions to ask your healthcare professional ahead of the visit. You may have questions about parts of your daily glucose profile that you don’t understand, areas where you’re having a hard time staying in range, or just general questions to help you navigate your data.

During the visit: To make sure that you and your healthcare professional are on the same page, it can be helpful to take a few minutes at the beginning of your appointment to explain your interpretation of your data in your own words. This may be a good time to start a conversation on any questions you may have prepared ahead of your visit. It is also important to take time with your care team to develop an action plan based on your CGM data with a few straightforward priorities for you to focus on before your next visit.

Brand-Specific Resources

While any CGM can help improve your diabetes management, there are some differences between the currently available systems that you may want to consider or talk about with your healthcare team – see our chart comparing different CGMs here. Specifically, we recommend asking your healthcare professional about how alarms may be able to alert you to times of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, what it means if you have to calibrate your CGM, and how to use your CGM with smart insulin pens, mobile apps, or even insulin pumps in an automated insulin delivery (AID) system.

To reach out to CGM companies for product support, contact their customer service departments:

  • Abbott: +1-855-632-8658
  • Dexcom: +1-888-738-3646
  • Medtronic: +1-800-646-4633
  • Senseonics: +1-844-736-7348

This article is part of a series on Time in Range.

The diaTribe Foundation, in concert with the Time in Range Coalition, is committed to helping people with diabetes and their caregivers understand Time in Range to maximize patients’ health. Learn more about the Time in Range Coalition here.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Two Brothers Take Control of Their Type 2

Peter and Johnny are brothers and good friends of mine, we were lucky enough to meet through our sons. They both have type 2 diabetes, just like their dad did. Just recently, they promised each other to begin taking their health seriously – and the changes they’ve made have been inspiring. I want to share their story.

Peter was diagnosed with type 2 eight years ago, right before I was diagnosed with type 1. Over the years, Peter and I have spoken a lot about our diabetes, and it has been so nice to share information and experiences with someone who “gets it.” I remember one time, we were all at a dinner party, and my continuous glucose meter was reading 49 with an arrow down. Peter understood the severity when most wouldn’t have, and quickly ran to the waiter to get me a coke. It has been nice to have someone to talk blood sugars with, but it became bittersweet when Peter’s brother Johnny was dealt the same fate of a type 2 diagnosis.

I thought it would be great to hear from Peter about his journey and how he started to take it seriously and commit to his health. I also spoke to Johnny about his surprising diagnosis, and how he quickly took action and control of his type 2. These brothers helped motivate and encourage each other, and now both can reap the rewards of their efforts.

Peter, Allison and Johnny celebrate taking control of their diabetes and their health.

Thank you so much for taking the to speak with me today. I thought many of our readers would love to hear how you both have taken care of your health thanks to your type 2 diagnosis. Making lifestyle changes isn’t always easy, but it is well worth the journey. And what a bonus to have your brother right by your side!

It is my understanding that your father had type 2 and eventually became insulin-dependent. Did you understand a lot about the disease growing up? 

Peter: Yes, we were six kids growing up, and my brother Johnny and sister Roula would give my dad his insulin shots 2x a day. They did not come mixed back then, so we had to mix the two vials (N&R) together to give his shot.

Did your father take care of his health? 

Johnny: No, he was first diagnosed at 37 but never took care of his health or made any lifestyle changes until later in life. Unfortunately, because of this, he had a toe amputated because of low circulation. It also affected his vision. He had multiple surgeries for this, and it ultimately lead to heart disease and heart failure. We lost him on his birthday at 71.

Knowing your family history, did you pay close attention to your diet and exercise habits? 

Peter: No, I thought I was invincible and that this disease would not affect me.

At what age were you diagnosed with type 2, and what were the symptoms? 

Peter: I was diagnosed at the age of 37. I really did not have any symptoms, but I had gone for a regular checkup and my blood levels were off the charts, and my doctor sent me to a specialist. The specialist put me on medication, but I was not taking the pills as prescribed, as I felt fine and didn’t want to take any medicine. I was not testing my blood sugar at that time.

How did you manage at first, and what lifestyle changes have you made since? 

Peter: I was in total denial and really did not change anything about how I was eating or going through my day-to-day life. Once I turned 45 and understood the severity and saw how much my blood sugar was rising, I made significant lifestyle changes. I started eating healthier, more vegetables (finally eating greens!), switched my alcohol choices (low-carb beer and lower sugar drinks). I started going to the gym prior to Covid, and then turned to walking.

I understand that recently you started to monitor your blood sugar more frequently and even tried out the Freestyle Libre. What was your experience with the Libre? Did you like being able to monitor your blood sugar all the time?  

Peter: I didn’t believe it! When I saw the numbers I thought they were wrong. I did like the ability to see how what I ate affected my blood sugar immediately, but I was not ready for the Libre until I took control of my lifestyle and lost weight, the full journey to get to where I am now. I feel like it would be better for me now, as it is extremely easy.

controlling type 2 diabetes

Peter before his weight loss

Please tell us about your brother, Johnny, and his surprising diagnosis. 

Peter: My brother happened to come over to my house when I was taking my blood sugar prior to my making healthier lifestyle changes and choices. My numbers were in the mid 200’s, and I thought my glucose meter was broken. My brother said, “Take mine so we can see how it’s working.” His numbers came over double mine at 468 [mg/dL]. We definitely thought the machine was broken until my sister-in-law took her blood sugar (with no history of diabetes in her family). She was at 90. At that point, we knew the numbers were correct, and we both knew that this was the defining moment of the rest of our lives.

What was your initial reaction to this pretty shocking news?  

Johnny: I was in total disbelief – I felt like I was going to die and really took a long, hard look at the life that I wanted and made a lot of decisions on how I needed to make some dramatic life changes.

Had you had any symptoms? 

Johnny: I felt completely fine, however, my wife always said that when I didn’t eat I would be very HANGRY. Snickers commercials had nothing on me, and truthfully when my numbers get too low now, I feel exactly the same. It is something I need to continue to control, to level out my sugar levels.

What were some of the first things you did to better get control of your health and your blood sugars?  

Johnny: I immediately stopped eating all processed carbs. No bread, rice, pasta, beer, sugar, desserts, and milk. I replaced these items with Ezekiel bread, zucchini linguini, almond milk, sugar-free coffee sweetener, and condiments (sugar-free ketchup and BBQ sauce).

Johnny before and after choosing to live a healthy lifestyle.

I know you have both come a long way since you found out you had type 2 diabetes. Can you each tell us a little about your successes? 

Johnny: I was 238 lbs before my diagnosis. By changing my eating habits, exercising every day, walking 2 miles, and working out, I now weigh 194 lbs. I’ve lost two pant sizes and feel like a new person, one that will be around for my family for a long time. And my wife says I’m super sexy now.

Peter: I was 232 lbs when I was first diagnosed, and with all of the changes in my everyday lifestyle, I now weigh 186. I feel like a million dollars and realize I should have made these changes years ago. Life is too short. Make the changes now.

You both should be very proud of yourselves for turning this diagnosis into a stepping stone towards a healthier life. What would be your advice to a newly diagnosed person?  

Peter: Control it now, before it gets out of control.

Johnny: Take it seriously as this life is precious and life is worth living without complications – it only gets worse as you get older. The best part, I feel like I’m 18 again!

Thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions. I am truly impressed with how you both taken on this disease. I know your story will inspire many of our readers!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Upcoming Apple and Android Watches to Include Glucose Monitors

In 2015, when Apple first launched its smartphone “watch”, or “smartwatch” people all over the world flocked to the new device, but it clearly became evident that the most popular feature (besides telling time), was health and fitness tracking. Suddenly, literally within arm’s reach, users had the ability to not only track their steps and mileage but to track floors climbed, standing time, moving time, heartbeats per minute (HBM), electrocardiogram monitoring, and even check for atrial fibrillation (AFib), among other things.

Apple CEO, Tim Cook, had initially suggested that they would be cautious in adding medical tracking to the watch, as approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could slow innovation.

“We don’t want to put the watch through the FDA process. I wouldn’t mind putting something adjacent to the watch through it, but not the watch because it would hold us back from innovating too much, the cycles are too long. But you can begin to envision other things that might be adjacent to it, maybe an app, maybe something else,” Cook said.

But customer demand for health tracking proved unmatched, and the company decided to change its mind, slowly adding more and more health tracking capabilities with every new version of the watch.

It should come as no surprise that according to a report out of South Korea, the newest Apple Watch, the Series 7 as well as the newest Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 (both of which are slated to launch later this year) will feature continuous glucose monitoring, developed in partnership with MIT, as people with and without diabetes alike are finding a constant watch on their blood sugars to be extremely beneficial to one’s health.

Both watches promise a “no-blood sampling method” to detect blood glucose levels using an optical sensor, and the feature will be advertised to those with and without diabetes. Unlike popular continuous glucose monitoring devices like the Freestyle Libre or Dexcom, these watches will rely on non-invasive detection of blood glucose levels, which can be achieved via infrared sensors.

Since this technology would be truly groundbreaking, it would be all but impossible to launch without FDA approval, which means that both watches would have to face several clinical trials before being available for public consumption. Clinical trials take a lot of time and money and can mean delays in a launch, especially if the glucose-sensing technology is non-invasive (which has not been seen yet, especially for people with diabetes who rely on this technology to successfully manage their diabetes).

There are many doubters, including the CEO of Valencell, an optical heart rate sensor company, who stated in 2017 that non-invasive blood glucose tracking “would never happen”.

“It is completely impossible to have a truly non-invasive glucose monitor,” Valencell CEO Steven LeBoeuf said.

Additionally, unleashing this kind of technology for mass-consumption could have unintended consequences: Will high demand for the product raise or lower the price? Will people with diabetes be priced out of their lifesaving durable medical equipment? Will blood sugar monitoring become the newest “it” thing? Will companies like Abbott and Dexcom go out of business? Will test strips eventually be a thing of the past? Will health insurance companies be mandated to cover smartwatches eventually? Will smartwatches eventually loop with insulin pumps for automatic insulin delivery? Will this be a good thing or a bad thing for the diabetes community? Is it even possible to have reliable blood glucose readings without invasive technology, interstitial fluid, or blood samples?

Can two of the leading technology companies prove all of the doubters wrong? Can people with (and without!) diabetes finally be able to track their blood sugars without invasive tactics, and achieve better control, all through a smartwatch? Can Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Ki-Nam Kim prove everyone wrong? A lot seems to be in store for the latter half of 2021, so we will just have to wait and see!

Do you monitor your blood sugars from a smartwatch? How would having your smartwatch double as a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) help you? Do you see any negatives to such a device? Share this post and comment below; we love hearing from our readers!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

New Tech: College Graduate Invents Glucose-Sensing Earring

Tyra K, a 22-year-old graduate from the University of Huddersfield, surpassed thousands of entries and became a finalist in the 2020 Global Grad Show. Tyra, a  product design graduate, created a discreet earring that can monitor blood glucose levels in real-time.  

I found her story to be quite fascinating along with her reason for creating this device, being that Tyra herself does not live with diabetes. I thought it would be nice to hear from Tyra on how this idea came to life.

Hi Tyra, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I understand you do not live with diabetes. What gave you the inspiration to work on such a project?

Hi, thank you for having me! I was inspired to create a product that helped with type 1 diabetes (T1D) management after an incident that happened with a neighbor of mine. In summer 2019, my neighbor who is a male that lives independently had an unexpected hypoglycemic attack. Fortunately for him, the windows were open, which allowed me and my family members to hear a faint shout for help.

After realizing our neighbor needed assistance, we were able to gain access to his house and immediately called for the ambulance. After my neighbor had received medical assistance and the situation was resolved, it came to light that his hypoglycaemic attack developed thought-out the night, which almost triggered a diabetic coma. Due to this unfortunate circumstance, I was inspired to create a product that can prevent potentially fatal situations and support T1Ds.

What were the first steps you took once you had the idea? I know so many people have ideas but do not know how to execute them.

Once I decided to investigate diabetes management, my initial plan was to conduct and collect as much research as possible. As I am not a person with T1D, nor did I have much knowledge on the subject, [so] it was very important to me to learn as much as possible.

I set up focus groups, interviews, and questionnaires, to pinpoint the main areas of concern. Thanks to the help of the participating parents whose children have type 1 diabetes, I was able to create a focus group. This highlighted the main concerns among children/teenagers, such as the insecurities of managing diabetes in the presence of other people. I thought this was upsetting; no child should be embarrassed to monitor and control their health, especially as it is no fault of their own.

After processing all this information, I decided to create a product that would reduce the stigma of diabetes management and encourage younger type 1s to monitor their condition in a manner that caters to their needs.

I live with type 1 diabetes and wear the Dexcom G6 and find the technology to be life-saving. What makes your Sense Glucose Earring better than the big names like Dexcom and Freestyle Libre?

Products from brands such as Dexcom and Freestyle are revolutionary. The progress in diabetes management over the last 10 years is remarkable as the technology within existing products has helped many diabetics worldwide. Various CGMs seen on the market will cater to different consumer needs. Every consumer is different and will want different things from a product.

The Sense Glucose Earring is different from the leading brands as it focuses on making glucose monitoring discreet, quick and simple. It is designed to look like a piece of wearable tech, similar to wireless earphones, which aims to make monitoring in social situations more appealing and less distressing.

Sense Glucose Earring

Image credit: Tyra Kozlow

I think the earring idea is a fascinating one. How exactly does it measure your blood through your earlobe? Is insertion painful? Do you need finger prick calibrations?

Thank you! I am unable to give the full details on the technology at this stage, as the product is still being developed. However, I can tell you that inserting the device would not be painful, as it will fit into standard lobe piercing, so the only slightly painful part would be getting your ear pierced!

How often will you have to change the sensor? Or is it rechargeable?

The great thing about the Sense earring is that it is rechargeable. The device does not contain any disposable plastic components, the earring can be wiped clean and used as and when required. The life span of the product is yet to be confirmed, but the product is designed to last substantially longer than current invasive sensors.

I understand that once the Sense detects blood sugar levels, it then transmits the information to an app. What features does this app have other than displaying your blood sugar?

The app, like the earring, is still under development, but I hope that it will provide a personal experience for T1Ds, by providing the option for T1Ds share their glucose data with trusted family and friends, which creates a personal support network for the users who require it.

Since the inspiration for this device came from you chairing a focus group of parents who all had the same sentiments of their child not wanting to manage their condition in public due to the stigma, have you reconnected with these families to show them what you have created? What was their reaction? I’d imagine they were touched and humbled by your success!

Yes! I recently spoke to the chairwoman of the support group, who informed me that the group responded positively towards the Sense Glucose Earring and was excited to see how the product progresses in the Global Grad Show.

Sense Glucose Earring

Image credit: Tyra Kozlow

What are the next steps to bring this product to the public?

The next steps are to secure funding and build the right team to get the product on the market.

What enhancements can you see making to this device down the road?

At this moment in time, the focus is getting the earring onto the market, but I hope in the future we can produce variants of the product to further improve the lives of T1Ds.

Since you have already had such great success with such an important device that can help so many, what do you see yourself working on next? In ten years?

Personally, I hope to see the Sense Earring through to market implementation, and I desire to continue developing productions that have a positive impact on people’s lives.

Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us, Tyra. We look forward to following your journey and wish you continued success!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

FreeStyle Libre 3 Cleared in Europe – Smaller, Thinner, and No More Scanning!

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Matthew Garza and Katie Mahoney

The FreeStyle Libre 3 has been cleared in Europe for anyone ages four and older. The new continuous glucose monitor is as small as two stacked US pennies, provides real-time readings directly to the mobile app via Bluetooth, and has the same low list price

Abbott announced that the new FreeStyle Libre 3 has been cleared in Europe – see 40-second video here. This third-generation continuous glucose monitor (CGM) has many of the same features that make the FreeStyle Libre 2 so popular, including optional alarms, 14-day wear, and high accuracy. The FreeStyle Libre 3 also adds several new features:

  • Real-time, minute-by-minute readings are sent directly to the FreeStyle Libre 3 app via Bluetooth – moving this CGM from “on-demand” to “always-on,” so there is no need to scan the sensor every eight hours.
  • It is 70% smaller than previous models, making it the “smallest and thinnest” CGM sensor yet – it’s said to be about the size of two stacked pennies. Importantly, this new model will reduce the amount of plastic and carbon paper used, improving the production of the device significantly from an environmental perspective.
  • It is cleared for people with diabetes as young as four years old.
  • It is cleared for use in gestational diabetes and pregnant women with type 1 diabetes. We suggest that everyone who is pregnant and has type 1 diabetes try to get CGM, and that everyone else who is pregnant be tested for gestational diabetes as early on as possible.
  • It is cleared as an iCGM, meaning it can be used for automated insulin delivery (AID) development in Europe.
  • The new FreeStyle Libre 3 app, available for both iOS and Android devices, will contain many of the same features as the FreeStyle Libre 2 app (Libre View) including the all-important time in range graphs and ambulatory glucose profile (AGP). You can learn all about the AGP here.

Currently the FreeStyle Libre 3 is cleared for upper-arm wear, though we imagine people may try to use it “off-label” on their abdomen or other spots. There is no separate reader for collecting and monitoring sensor data, so people will use smartphones with the FreeStyle Libre 3 app in order to connect to the sensor.

The FreeStyle Libre 3 will be available at the same price as previous versions of the CGM ($109 for a one-month’s supply, without insurance); Abbott will continue to offer the FreeStyle Libre 2 at the same price for people who prefer the to scan their CGM. The FreeStyle Libre 3 is expected to launch in the coming months in Europe, and though we don’t yet know where it will first launch, we expect it may be Germany, like Abbott’s other CGM launches. In the US, Abbott has not announced any potential timeline for FDA submission or clearance. With the recent Libre Sense clearance in Europe, there is lots happening with this brand – stay tuned for more. Readers in European countries, we’d love to hear your early thoughts once you try the FreeStyle Libre 3!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Interview with Type 1 Musician Austin James

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Makaila Heifner

Austin James is a FreeStyle Libre Ambassador and this content was made possible with support from Abbott Diabetes Care.

Austin James is a multi-instrumentalist from Hartford, Connecticut whose music blends folk, rock, and soul to create a new genre-bending sound. He recently sat down with Beyond Type 1 to answer some rapid-fire questions about his life with diabetes and musical journey.

Tell us about your diagnosis.

AJ: I was 17, a senior in high school, getting ready to start my second semester of my senior year. And I got really sick, lost a lot of weight, all the signs for diabetes. A buddy of mine in my class had diabetes, so I ended up checking my blood sugar and it was well over 600 (mg/dL) so they rushed me to the hospital and it was an overnight change.

How did you know it was diabetes? Did someone suggest that it was diabetes?

I actually had looked up the symptoms. I had known about diabetes because I was close with my friend, so I was his accountability partner which is pretty funny, because I didn’t have diabetes at the time, so I was responsible for that. I knew something wasn’t right, I told my mom, “I think I’ve got diabetes.” She was like, “No, you’re fine. You’re fine.” She just kind of saw me withering away, slowly lost about 30 pounds. I was so sick, so thirsty. And I was preparing to go into the military and everything just changed. It was pretty wild.

What would you say was the hardest part about the diagnosis?

Just the change in the trajectory of my life. I came from a military family and not be able to do that was really hard for me at the time, ended up being a blessing in disguise that I got to chart my own path and become a musician. But yeah, that was probably the toughest part.

How has diabetes impacted your music?

Well, I mean, before I was on the FreeStyle Libre system, I was doing all finger pricks and it was just really painful. I’m a multi-instrumentalist so I’ve been playing violin for 20 plus years and I play guitar and your fingers are already pretty beat up from playing the instruments and then you have finger pricks on top of that and it can get pretty painful. So that’s been the biggest challenge. And then just peace of mind when you’re going on tour and making sure you have all these supplies and making sure you’re not running short on anything. And technology now helps so much, having the pump and continuous glucose monitor (CGM) are an added layer of security there.

When you’re preparing for a tour, how do you make sure you have everything and that you’re ready to go?

I have a checklist. I’m a pretty organized person so I have my checklist ready and everything good to go. And my mom, because my mom always checks in on me. She lives in Florida, and she’s still a mom even though I’m 31, she still checks in on me. So she makes sure I have everything and she goes through the checklist with me.

What’s your favorite and least favorite part about touring?

My least favorite part of a tour is the hotel, I can never sleep in them. I like my own bed, so that can be pretty tough, but my favorite part is the traveling. I like being in new spots. I like various things, different cities, different cultures.

Who is your biggest influence for your diabetes journey?

Funny enough, obviously with the music is watching Nick Jonas. I mean, how appropriate? But watching him live a very fulfilled life, it’s pretty cool. I mean, obviously he’s a musician as well, but it makes it that much more relatable. And I think Jay Cutler, the former quarterback in the NFL, definitely those two guys for sure.

Biggest influence on your music?

I’m a big Aerosmith fan. Steven Tyler, he’s my guy.

What advice would you give to someone recently diagnosed with diabetes?

That it is tough, it’s going to be a hard road. You’ve got to be honest with them, but at the end of the day, you can really live a fulfilled life. And the technology we have now has come so far and not to get too down. You can really live a full life and it is possible. And if you really do take care of yourself, you can live a healthy life as well.

Watch Austin speak about his CGM below, and check out his music HERE

Source: diabetesdaily.com

The Biggest News in Diabetes Technology, Drugs, and Nutrition: Highlights from ADA 2020

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Eliza Skoler, Jimmy McDermott, Matthew Garza, Divya Gopisetty, Frida Velcani, Emily Fitts, Karena Yan, Joseph Bell, and Rosalind Lucier

The diaTribe team attended the 2020 ADA 80th Scientific Sessions to share several of the greatest highlights from the virtual conference!

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) 80th Scientific Sessions was full of exciting news on advances and studies in diabetes technology, treatments, and nutrition. Click on the links below to learn more!

Diabetes Technology

Diabetes Drugs

Nutrition, Exercise, and Mindset

Access to Care and Policy

Diabetes Technology

The Next Generation of Automated Insulin Delivery Systems for People with Type 1 Diabetes – Updates from Four New Clinical Trials

The first day of ADA featured data on four clinical trials of the newest automated insulin delivery (AID) systems. In what was a packed (virtual) room, the session began with three highly anticipated presentations of studies on Medtronic’s MiniMed 780G Advanced Hybrid Closed Loop System (AHCL). Dr. Bruce Bode, presented the US adult pivotal trial. Here are the main results:

  • Big news – nearly 80% of participants achieved a time in range of more than 70% without an increase in hypoglycemia.
    • On average, AHCL therapy increased time in range to nearly 75% from a baseline of 68.8%.
    • Among adolescents, time in range increased to over 72% from a baseline of 62.4%.
  • AHCL therapy improved average A1C from 7.5% to 7.0%. This is what is sometimes called a “high quality A1C” in the field – hypoglycemia is low, and therefore not contributing to a “better” number.
  • How were these results achieved? Experts said that the lower algorithm target of 100 mg/dl (vs. 120 mg/dl) helped, along with an active insulin time (AIT) setting of 2-3 hours. If you use a pump, check what you have for this setting and talk to your healthcare professional about it to see if you can make changes (regardless of whether your pump can deliver insulin automatically).

Following Dr. Bode, International Diabetes Center’s Dr. Rich Bergenstal shared data from FLAIR, a trial comparing MiniMed 780G Advanced Hybrid Closed Loop (AHCL) with the 670G Hybrid Closed Loop (HCL) in adolescents and youth with type 1 diabetes (ages 14-29). This is the first ever head-to-head comparison of an AID system with a commercially available AID system. The study also had broad entry criteria: at start, 20% of participants were on multiple daily injections of insulin (MDI), 38% were not using CGM, and 25% had a baseline A1C above 8.5%.

  • Time in range over 24 hours increased from 57% at baseline to 63% with the 670G and to 67% with the 780G. Notably, 6% greater time in range totals nearly an hour and a half more time in range per day.
  • Compared to baseline, the number of participants achieving the international time in range consensus target of more than 70% was nearly two times higher with the 670G and almost three times higher with the 780G (22% and 32% of participants, respectively, compared to a baseline of 12%; see slide below).
  • This was the first time that a study measured participants meeting the combined metric of both time in range greater than 70% and time below 54 mg/dL less than 1% (see slide below). This is important since all therapy – and particulary automated insulin delivery – aims to decrease hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.

Graph

Image source: diaTribe

  • From a baseline average of 7.9%, those on the 670G achieved an average A1C of 7.6%, and those on the 780G had A1Cs that fell to 7.4% on average.
  • Both the 670G and 780G were considered safe when evaluating severe hypoglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
  • Participants satisfaction favored the 780G over the 670G.

Today’s MiniMed 780G data finished with Dr. Martin de Bock’s study, which served as the clinical trial supporting 780G’s CE-Mark submission (and today’s announced approval in Europe). In a study of 59 people (ages 7-80 years, with an average age of 23) who had never used an insulin pump:

  • Average time in range increased to over 70% from 58% (a change of 12.5%) when using the 780G compared to a sensor augmented pump.
  • Overnight time in range increased to 75% from 59% when using the 780G compared to the sensor augmented pump.
  • The improvement in time in range was primarily driven by a 12.1% decrease in time in hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) with the 780G.

It was warming on Twitter to see Dr. de Bock with his three small children while also engaging in Q&A/Chat from their breakfast table. If you’re on social media, follow Dr. De Bock here.

The session concluded with Stanford’s Dr. Bruce Buckingham who presented data on Insulet’s Omnipod 5 Automated Glucose Control System, powered by Horizon. What fantastic data! The study assessed the safety and effectiveness of the fully on-body system over 14 days of use before starting the three-month pivotal study. Interestingly, this study was conducted during the winter holiday season when some of the lowest time in range is observed (typically a three percent drop); the system performed remarkably well in both children and adults, even during this challenging time period.

  • In adults, time in range increased to 73% on the hybrid closed loop system, up from 65.6% using standard therapy – this is the same as nearly two hours more time in range per day.
  • In youth, time in range increased to 70% on the hybrid closed loop system, up from 51% using standard therapy – what an increase, nearly five hours more per day.

These reductions in time in range were mostly driven by a decrease in hyperglycemia. Hypoglycemia was also very low to start. Dr. Buckingham eloquently emphasized, “… this is so important for families and people at night to go to sleep and not worry about hypoglycemia … for a number of kids, they got to go on their first sleepover during this study. It was really decreasing a lot of the burden and a lot of the thinking about diabetes.”

Tandem’s Control-IQ Real-World Data: Time in Range Increases 2.4 Hours Per Day

Tandem presented two posters featuring very positive real-world data from early Control-IQ users. Control-IQ was cleared in December 2019 and officially launched in January 2020.

The first poster, Control-IQ Technology in the Real World: The First 30 daysincluded at least 30 days of pre- and post-Control-IQ data from 1,659 participants. During the first 30-days of Control-IQ use:

  • Time in range increased by 2.4 hours a day (compared to pre-Control-IQ data) to 78%
  • The time in range improvement was driven by a 9.5% decrease in time spent above 180 mg/dl (that’s 2.3 hours less per day in hyperglycemia – wow!).
  • Average glucose levels fell from 161 mg/dL to 148 mg/dL.
  • Glucose management indicator (or GMI, an estimate of A1C) fell from 7.2% to 6.9%.
  • Users spent 96% of time in closed loop!
Teplizumab graph

Image source: diaTribe

The second poster, Glycemic Outcomes for People with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Using Control-IQ Technology: Real-World Data from Early Adopters, looked at 2,896 participants with type 1 diabetes and 144 participants with type 2 diabetes, using at least 14 days of pre- and post-Control-IQ data.

  • Time in range was improved by 2.1 hours per day in the type 1 group to 77%
  • Time in range was improved by 1.4 hours per day in the type 2 group 79%
  • Both groups spent 96% of time in closed loop.

We learned so much at ADA about improving time in range, and we were moved by the power of automated insulin delivery in doing so, since it shows much greater time in range with what sounds like so less work for people and their healthcare teams.

To learn more about Control-IQ, check out the following articles:

A1C vs. Time in Range – Which Should be Used for Children with Diabetes?

A panel discussion of leading experts, moderated by JDRF CEO Dr. Aaron Kowalski, focused on the pros and cons of using A1C and time in range as primary metrics in diabetes care and management for children. As they debated the best marker of glucose management, they attempted to define the ultimate “goal” of diabetes care: is it preventing complications, spending less time in hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, or improving mental and emotional wellbeing?

Dr. William Winter presented extensive evidence that A1C can predict a person’s risk of developing complications (kidney disease, heart disease, retinopathy, and neuropathy). While lower time in range has been associated with microvascular complications, experts agree that more studies are needed to determine its predictive accuracy for long-term outcomes. Dr. Thomas Danne presented results from the SWEET project that furthered the case for A1C as a measure of population outcomes: setting ambitious targets based on A1C could lead to significant improvements in outcomes for children with type 1 diabetes.

A1C ethnicity

Image source: diaTribe

Experts discussed cases in which A1C can be misleading and time in range may emerge as a more reliable measure of glucose control. Dr. Winter explained that population A1cs differ among racial and ethnic groups, leading to misdiagnosis (for example, African Americans have a higher A1c on average compared to white people). Very importantly, as diaTribe has reported on for many years in Beyond A1C research, A1C also does not demonstrate hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, or glucose variability. According to Dr. Danne, healthcare professionals find CGM reports more helpful in identifying daily highs and lows and in adjusting therapy. This technology allows them to better work alongside families to set individual and measurable goals based on time in range – it is terrific to hear about this continued teamwork.

Messages

Image source: diaTribe

SENCE

Image source: diaTribe

Though Dr. Danne acknowledged the issue of access and affordability, he believes CGM use will continue to increase among children who are tech savvy. Dr. Daniel DeSalvo presented data from the SENCE and CITY to further support use of CGM among children with type 1 diabetes.

CITY

Image source: diaTribe

Young children (two to seven years old) enrolled in the SENCE study saw their hypoglycemia (blood glucose under 70 mg/dL) and time spent over 300 mg/dL reduce by 40 minutes per day – that’s nearly five hours a week. Teens and young adults (ages 14 to 24) in the CITY study saw a 7% increase in time in range, which is almost two more hours per day spent in range – 100 minutes, to be exact!

The Use of CGM in Type 2 Diabetes — Is There Value?

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) has been a revolutionary tool; it gives people real-time updates on their blood glucose levels that can help to increase time in range (TIR). For most providers in diabetes, the value of CGM is now nearly universally supported (either “real-time” or “professional CGM”) even if all people with diabetes can’t get it. Reimbursement throughout much of the world has reinforced the value of CGM in type 1 diabetes almost everywhere, though the value of CGM for people with type 2 diabetes is still being explored.

CGM

Image source: diaTribe

Dr. Philis-Tsimikas argued for CGM for type 2 diabetes given the technology’s ability to offer remote solutions for care management, provide direct feedback of behavior modification, and allow evidence-based changes to drug therapies. Dr. Philis-Tsimikas shared data from several CGM studies in people with type 2 diabetes on a variety of therapies (basal insulin alone, and oral and other medications), highlighting the improvement in clinical and behavioral outcomes. In what could be the most exciting set of results, people with type 2 diabetes who used real-time CGM (RT-CGM) intermittently for 12 weeks showed an average A1C reduction of 1 percentage point at the end of 12 weeks (compared to a 0.5 percentage point reduction in the blood glucose meter control group). During the 40-week follow up period, A1C was still significantly lower in the RT-CGM group.

Dr. Elbert Huang gave what we felt was a less persuasive view. He argued that in most cases, CGM use is not valuable for people with type 2 diabetes, on the basis of cost. Howerver this is based on outdated data – just yesterday at ADA, there was striking Late-Breaker data presented that showed very meaningful reductions in A1c by Dr. Eden Miller and Dr. Gene Wright (he’ll be speaking at the TCOYD/diaTribe Forum Monday night!) The study showed very meaningful A1C reductions in thousands of people with diabetes – starting A1C was 8.5%, which fell to 7.6% to 7.9% depending on the population. Dr. Huang presented two studies that showed that the cost ratio of CGM was different depending on the assumptions of costs related to the quality and quantity of lives impacted by type 2 diabetes. A QALY, by the way, is a “quality adjusted life year” that measures both quantity and quality (based on disease burden) of life years. We also strongly believe that many people become more engaged in their diabetes management due to a variety of factors that reduce stigma (no fingerstick tests required, etc.) and enable them to focus on how data and technology can work together to improve their results.

Dr. Huang suggests that less costly treatments (such as the use of ACE inhibitors to avoid high blood pressure or to prevent kidney disease) might be better areas of focus and certainly all experts would agree that focus here is important as well. He also mentioned potential negative psychological effects of constantly checking blood glucose readings using CGM and the fact that this technology may only work if it is shared with a person’s healthcare team – we agree integration with healthcare teams where available is a valuable point and also emphasize our learnings from ADA 2020 from many providers that emphasize, as Dr. Diana Isaacs did on Saturday, that CGM enables greater interest in diabetes management by people. While the technology is extremely important, Dr. Huang also expressed that it could be more valuable if the price of CGM declines or if it is shown to improve glucose management while also reducing the need for costly medicines, among other factors – these factors of cost are extremely important. CGM is going down in price on average and global pricing of $109/month is already available from FreeStyle Libre all over the world. While no one should have to pay $3/day on their own, we believe many more health systems are interested in investing more here due to the positive results they are seeing. We’ll be back with more data from the ADA 2020 Scientific Sessions on this and related fronts!

Parent Perspectives on DIY Closed-Loop

An observational study on Loop, a do-it-yourself (DIY) automated insulin delivery system (AID), used focus groups to gather the attitudes and experiences of parents and children using Loop. The study followed people using an AID system, continuous glucose monitor (CGM) readings, and a communications bridge device, called “RileyLink.”

Overall, parents felt that Loop had a positive impact on their family’s lives. They reported the following outcomes:

  • Improvements in emotional health as a result of a greater sense of security and normalcy, increased quality of life, and decreased parental stress.
  • Improvements in other areas of life, including management of children’s diabetes at school, quality of sleep, confidence in caregivers, and children’s ability to explore extracurriculars without supervision.

Dr. Anastasia Albanese-O’Neill presented survey results on what parents expect of school and diabetes camp staff to help their children manage their DIY closed-loop system. School nurses were also surveyed on their opinions regarding DIY. Here are some highlights:

  • 29% of parents expect that school staff will assist children with delivering a bolus.
  • Expectations of diabetes camp staff were lower than school staff – 23% of parents expect school staff to assist with carbohydrate counting and timing of bolus, while only 13% of parents expect diabetes camp staff to do those things.
  • Though 46% of school nurses had never heard of DIY before participating in the survey, 33% of them agreed that school staff should help students using DIY who cannot manage it independently.

This suggests a need for training on DIY and diabetes technology for school and camp staff.

Is Technology the Solution to Hypoglycemia? Dr. Bergenstal and Dr. Wilmot Debate

Dr. Richard Bergenstal from the International Diabetes Center (IDC) emphasized the advantages of using continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) for reducing episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and other health complications in this debate with Dr. Wilmot. Both doctors are highly regarded, and we took this as a big opportunity to learn lots more rather than land only on one size, though it’s certainly hard to avoid saying yes to this question, from diaTribe’s perspective. Dr. Bergenstal eloquently explained that, on average, hypoglycemia is the biggest barrier to optimal blood glucose management, pointing to the fact that A1C levels increase when people fear going low (what he called the “ripple effect of hypoglycemia”). Luckily, with CGM reports, people can finally detect patterns in hypoglycemia and understand exactly how much time they are spending with blood glucose levels under 70 mg/dL in a day.

Evidence shows that closed-loop technology can reduce and even prevent hypoglycemia. In a study of 124 people with diabetes that Dr. Bergenstal shared, the use of automated-insulin delivery systems (AID) completely eliminated hypoglycemia. This was a historic win – previous studies (see slide below) using low glucose suspend systems (LGS) reduced hypoglycemia by 38%, while predictive low glucose suspend systems (PLGS) reduced hypoglycemia by 59%.

ada 1 1

Image source: diaTribe

Dr. Emma Wilmot argued that while these findings are exciting, technology is only part of the solution. Technology does reduce the risk of hypoglycemia, but is not available to all (particularly those from underserved populations) and is not suited to all. She said that unless CGM is also paired with structured education, it will not provide the significant and lasting improvements in hypoglycemia awareness that the diabetes community needs. We know, of course, how important education is – and diaTribe will be coming back to discuss this in an upcoming piece about a new article just published in Diabetes Care earlier this week (Diabetes Sisters’ CEO Anna Norton was a key author in the new consensus report)!

Early CGM use can help kids and predict T1D progression

The use of CGM across different populations – including people of various ages and different stages of type 1 diabetes – shows that CGM can accurately predict the progression of type 1 diabetes for people at risk. For those transitioning from “stage 2” to “stage 3”, continuous monitoring can also help prevent DKA, which many people with type 1 have at diagnosis. While there are no clinical guidelines at the moment for how to manage “stage 2” type 1 diabetes, the TESS study is currently evaluating the benefits of CGM use in this population. “Staging” of type 1 diabetes is fairly new and we will be thinking about this more as we consider how to further improve education about type 1 diabetes.

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Image source: diaTribe

Experts all agreed that earlier use of CGM could result in better diabetes management later on. Dr. Jan Fairchild studied the start and continued use of CGM in a pediatric population with early “stage 3” type 1 diabetes. Kids who started CGM at diagnosis had slightly higher CGM wear at 24 months, compared to kids who started within the first two years of diagnosis (78% vs. 66%, respectively), though this result was not significant. All children using CGM ultimately benefitted – they demonstrated a median A1C of 7.7% at 24 months, which was less than the clinic median A1C of 8.1%. Dr. Fairchild also mentioned the educational role that early CGM use could play, especially with a focus on time in range.

Diabetes Drugs

VERTIS-CV Trial of Steglatro and Heart and Kidney Health

Dr. Samuel Dagogo-Jack and Dr. Christopher Cannon presented highly anticipated results from the VERTIS-CV trial, which studied the effects of Merck/Pfizer’s SGLT-2 inhibitor Steglatro (ertugliflozin) on over 8,000 participants with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD). The trial found that treatment with Steglatro reduced average A1C by 0.5 percentage points, lowered average weight by nearly five pounds, and reduced blood pressure compared to standard diabetes treatment. Steglatro also improved kidney function, as measured by eGFR, and reduced the number of study participants with heart failure.

The researchers agreed that the VERTIS-CV results confirm the current guidance on the use of SGLT-2 inhibitors to prevent and treat heart failure and diabetes-related kidney disease. As a reminder, the current ADA Standards of Care advise using SGLT-2 inhibitors in people with type 2 diabetes for reducing hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), improving blood pressure, and facilitating weight loss. SGLT-2 inhibitors have also been shown to improve heart and kidney health in people with and without diabetes.

Read more about the trial in our full article here.

New Data Shows Teplizumab Delays Diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes

At last year’s ADA, we were very excited to report on trial results that showed teplizumab (pronounced Tep-pli-ZU-mab!) delayed type 1 diabetes diagnosis by two years, compared to placebo. The study enrolled 76 participants (55 children and 21 adults) who were the relatives of people with type 1 diabetes and did not have diabetes, and were at high risk for developing the condition (they had unstable blood glucose levels and at least two diabetes-related antibodies). On average, time to diagnosis of type 1 diabetes for the teplizumab group was four years, compared to two years with placebo. At the end of the trial, 53% of the teplizumab-treated group did not have type 1 diabetes, compared to 28% of the placebo group.

New follow up data, presented by Dr. Emily Sims (Indiana University), showed sustained reduction in the onset of type 1 diabetes. Previously, teplizumab had been proven to delay clinical onset by only two years in high-risk people; however, these new data support a delay of as much as three years, compared to placebo.

Furthermore, people who were treated with teplizumab showed a “striking reversal” in C-peptide decline (this is a common measure of type 1 diabetes) in the six months following treatment, after which C-peptide levels seemed to stabilize. These data suggest that the treatment helped stabilize beta cell function (the cells in the pancreas that make insulin) and that repeated teplizumab treatment at key time points may be able to further extend, delay, or even prevent diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. While not a cure, three years of living without daily diabetes management is certainly a meaningful outcome.

When will teplizumab become available? With an estimated six-month review time if Priority Review is granted, an FDA decision could be expected as soon as mid-2021.

SGLT-2 Inhibitors and GLP-1 Agonists to Prevent Heart Disease

Dr. Mikhail Kosiborod (University of Missouri-Kansas City) and Dr. Darren McGuire (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center) debated the use of SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 agonists in primary prevention of heart disease (called cardiovascular disease, or CVD).

As background, primary prevention is using medication in people who do not have CVD in order to prevent CVD. This is different from secondary prevention in which a person who is diagnosed with CVD uses a medication to prevent progression of the disease.

Dr. Kosiborod started the session with a strong “yes” – SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 agonists should be used for primary prevention. However, primary prevention is difficult to prove: larger and longer trials are needed. Dr. Kosiborod believes that we do have enough evidence.

  • A meta-analysis of SGLT-2 inhibitor trials suggests that:
    • SGLT-2 therapy works to prevent heart failure regardless of whether a person has established CVD (based on hospitalizations for heart failure).
    • SGLT-2 therapy protects kidney health regardless of whether a person has established CVD.
  • The FDA has approved SGLT-2 inhibitor Farxiga for people with type 2 diabetes and established CVD, and those with risk factors for CVD. That is primary prevention!
  • REWIND showed that GLP-1 agonist Trulicity prevents major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE, which includes stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular death) in people with and without established CVD.
  • The FDA agrees again here – Trulicity is approved for people with type 2 diabetes with CVD and those with risk factors for CVD.
SGLT2

Image source: diaTribe

Next, Dr. Kosiborod looked at the population level. Worldwide, primary prevention with SGLT-2s and GLP-1s will significantly reduce cardiovascular events (compared to secondary prevention alone) because there are many people who are not diagnosed with CVD.

GLP1

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Dr. Kosiborod believes this primary prevention is cost-effective and essential, given the high risk to the population. And many SGLT-2s and GLP-1s will become generic in the future.

Dr. McGuire argued that we are not ready for SGLT-2s and GLP-1s to be used in primary prevention. He pointed to a meta-analysis that showed no benefit of SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 agonists in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) outcomes compared to placebo in people without established ASCVD. In his analysis of REWIND, Dr. McGuire pointed to an absolute risk difference of 0.3% in people without established CVD taking Trulicity versus placebo (1.7 events for every 100 patient years, vs. 2.0 events for every 100 patient years). This would mean that you would need to treat 333 people without CVD to prevent one MACE – which would be $3.4 million in drug costs.

Both speakers agreed that SGLT-2 inhibitors have shown strong effects in primary prevention for heart failure and kidney outcomes. There was no significant debate on this point, as the data speak for themselves regarding the profound effect of SGLT-2 treatment in reducing these outcomes.

Weekly Basal Insulin – The Wave of the Future?

New types of insulin – once-weekly basal insulin injections – are being tested in clinical trials and may bring major developments to how people take insulin. In this session, Professor Philip Home, Dr. J. Hans DeVries, and Dr. Stefano Del Prato discussed the pros and cons and recent results from clinical trials of weekly basal insulin.

Prof. Home explained that weekly insulin could reduce hurdles in starting or maintaining insulin therapy for people with diabetes, especially those who are:

  • Afraid of injections
  • Hesitant to start insulin due to the change in lifestyle or impact on quality of life
  • Wary about handling devices
  • Already on a weekly injectable GLP-1 agonist

Weekly insulin could help people adhere to their prescribed therapy – but it will likely make dose titration and adjustments more challenging. One of the major challenges of weekly insulin is that people can’t modify insulin doses according to life disruptions (for example, sick days or increased physical activity).

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Dr. DeVries and Dr. Del Prato reviewed the various weekly insulins that companies are studying to evaluate their safety and how they affect diabetes outcomes in comparison to existing insulins. Dr. Del Prato highlighted results from a recent study that compared Novo Nordisk’s weekly insulin (icodec) to Glargine U100 (Lantus) in people with type 2 diabetes:

  • Both insulins showed a similar reduction in A1c.
  • Icodec showed improved glucose profiles for self-monitored blood glucose (SMBG).
  • Rates of hypoglycemia were low for both insulins.
  • Weight gain, which is common when starting insulin, was the same for both insulins.
  • Icodec did not show any new safety issues.

Research is still to come on weekly basal insulin, but it looks promising.

Farxiga for Diabetes Prevention? New Analysis of DAPA-HF Trial

Yale’s Dr. Silvio Inzucchi presented an analysis of the landmark DAPA-HF trial, suggesting that along with the heart health benefits of SGLT-2 inhibitor Farxiga, an additional benefit of preventing type 2 diabetes also exists.

As background, DAPA-HF examined the heart health effects of Farxiga (spelled Forxiga in Europe) in people with and without type 2 diabetes. The trial showed that:

  • Farxiga reduced heart-related death or worsening heart failure by 26% compared to placebo (a “nothing” pill).
  • The heart benefits were the same in people with diabetes and without diabetes.

Dr. Inzucchi’s new analysis showed that for participants who did not have type 2 diabetes at the start of the trial, treatment with Farxiga reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by a whopping 32% compared to placebo. After 18 months, 4.9% of the Farxiga group had been diagnosed with diabetes compared to 7.1% of the placebo group. This is a big deal and anyone you know at high risk of type 2 diabetes should learn about these results and talk to their doctor or healthcare team.

We’re glad to see this important benefit – type 2 diabetes prevention – may be conveyed to people with heart failure who can now take Farxiga regardless of whether or not they have type 2 diabetes. As a reminder, Farxiga is the first SGLT-2 inhibitor drug to be approved for a non-diabetes specific population.

Metformin, GLP-1 agonists, and SGLT-2 inhibitors in Type 1 Diabetes

UCSD’s Dr. Jeremy Pettus moderated a session with three expert presenters from across the world: Dr. Irene Hramiak (Western University), Dr. Tina Vilsboll (Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen), and Dr. Chantal Mathieu (University Hospital Gasthuisberg Leuven).

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Dr. Hramiak kicked things off discussing the current challenges and risks of insulin therapy, including hypoglycemia, weight gain, glucose variability, and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). According to data from the T1D Exchange, average A1C levels have not improved in the last decade, and adolescents continue to be a difficult group for glycemic management, despite increased use of pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGM). How can adjunctive therapies (added to insulin) help?

The REMOVAL study looked at the effects of metformin in people with type 1 diabetes (40 years of age or older). Over three years, participants taking metformin saw the following benefits compared to those taking a placebo:

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  • A decrease in A1C of 0.13 percentage points
  • A reduction in insulin dose by 1.2 units
  • No change in the rate of minor or severe hypoglycemia
  • From a baseline body weight of 193 lbs (87.7 kg), a weight loss of 2.6 lbs (1.17 kg)
  • A reduction in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by 0.13 mmol/L (5 mg/dL)

These data suggest that metformin did not have a clinically meaningful impact on glycemic management but may improve cardiovascular health in adults with type 1 diabetes. That’s disappointing, but something we’ve all wondered for years – now we know!

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Dr. Vilsboll continued the conversation by discussing GLP-1 agonists for type 1 diabetes. She reminded that adjunctive therapy has several important goals but does not replace insulin – which is the main treatment for people with type 1 diabetes.

Dr. Vilsboll provided an overview of the effect of GLP-1 drugs in the pancreas (on insulin-producing beta cells), liver, brain, kidneys, and other organs before sharing data from a trial on GLP-1agonists in type 1 diabetes.

The LIRA-1 Study evaluated 24 weeks of GLP-1 agonist use in people with type 1 diabetes and excess weight and found that GLP-1 treatment:

  • Did not have a statistically significant (meaningful) reduction in A1C compared to placebo.
  • Reduced body weight by 13.4 lbs (6.1 kg) compared to placebo (from a baseline of about 205 lbs, or 93 kg).
  • Increased gastrointestinal side effects (nausea, diarrhea).
  • Did not decrease the amount of bolus insulin required but reduced basal insulin by about five to six units per day.

The ADJUNCT trial was the longest such trial, involving 1,400 people with type 1 diabetes with an A1C between 7%-10%. In this trial, participants taking GLP-1 agonists experienced:

  • A clinically significant reduction in A1C of 0.54 percentage points compared to a baseline of 8.2% after 52 weeks.
  • A reduction in body weight that correlated with the dose of GLP-1 agonist: 10.8 lbs (4.9 kg) of weight loss with a 1.8 mg dose of GLP-1 agonist; 7.9 lbs (3.6 kg) with a 1.2 mg dose; and 4.9 lbs (2.2 kg) with a 0.6 mg dose.
  • An increased rate of symptomatic hypoglycemia, but no increase in severe hypoglycemia or DKA.
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In a more recent trial, MAG1C, researchers examined the use of GLP-1 agonist exenatide (Byetta) over 26 weeks in adults with type 1 diabetes. Researchers found that compared to placebo, the GLP-1 agonist did not decrease A1C but did decrease insulin dose and body weight. Researchers concluded that the GLP-1 agonist does not have a future as an add-on treatment to insulin in type 1 diabetes. We are not certain this is the correct answer, because it seems like TIR would’ve been useful to measure – but, there’s no fighting city hall.

The session concluded with Dr. Chantal Mathieu discussing the role of SLGT-2 inhibitors in people with type 1 diabetes. She pointed to three main trials: DEPICT with Farxiga, InTANDEM with Zynquista, and EASE with Jardiance.

Compared to placebo, participants taking Farxiga (either 5mg or 10mg dose) experienced:

  • Approximately a 0.45 percentage point drop in A1C by 24 weeks, and 0.2 to 0.3 percentage point decrease in A1C after 52 weeks.​
  • time in range increase of about 10% – a gain of almost two more hours of time in range per day

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  • A 10% decrease in both basal and bolus insulin.
  • A decrease in body weight of about 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg) with a 5mg dose, and about 7.7 lbs (3.5 kg) with a 10mg dose (from a baseline of 179 lbs, or 81 kg).
  • An increased risk of genital infection and urinary tract infections.
  • No increase in hypoglycemia.
  • An increased risk of DKA that rises with a larger dose.

The inTandem trial also showed a drop in A1C: after 24 weeks, participants taking Zynquista experienced a 0.5 percentage point drop in A1C compared to those taking placebo. Time in range also increased with Zynquista. There was a 77-minute increase in time in range with the 200 mg dose, and almost a three-hour increase for people taking the 400mg dose. The increased risks of DKA and genital infections were also observed in this trial.

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The EASE trial provided evidence that supported the effects of SGLT-2 inhibitors on the reduction of A1C – about 0.3-0.4 percentage points after 52 weeks. This study also used a much lower dose of 2.5 mg, which offered an intermediate effect – lowering A1C by about 0.2 percentage points and reducing body weight by 4 lbs (1.8 kg). Interestingly, there was no difference in DKA with the 2.5 mg dose compared to placebo.

Dr. Mathieu concluded by sharing her “bottom line” on the use of SGLT-2 inhibitors in type 1 diabetes and preventing DKA.

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To learn more about off-label drugs in type 1 diabetes, check out this article from Kerri Sparling.

What Therapies Are Best for People with Type 2 Diabetes at Risk of Heart Disease?

The world of diabetes is now focusing more than ever on preventing diabetes-related health complications. Not only is the treatment of diabetes about blood sugar (measured by A1C or time in range), but it is also about heart health, kidney health, and so much more. In 2019, data from large trials showed that GLP-1 agonists and SGLT-2 inhibitors have heart and kidney protection benefits.

As such, experts strongly emphasized using GLP-1 or SGLT-2 drugs for individuals at high-risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or chronic kidney disease. They also named that GLP-1 and SGLT-2 therapies should become more accessible and affordable to people living with diabetes.

Studies have not yet evaluated the heart and kidney health benefits of metformin, compared to those of GLP-1s and SGLT-2s. However, trials have shown that metformin helps lower blood glucose and body weight, comes with a low risk of hypoglycemia, and is cost-effective.

If your healthcare professional has not brought up additional therapy options for you, we recommend you ask them to read this article and discuss your options.

A Debate on the Use of Sulfonylureas in Type 2 Diabetes

Sulfonylureas, or SUs (drugs like glimepiride, glipizide, gliclazide), are a commonly prescribed low-cost drug for people with type 2 diabetes across the world. At ADA 2020, experts Dr. Sophia Zoungas and Dr. Carol Wysham debated the role of SUs in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. While the two endocrinologists differed on how to interpret data from various studies, we came away from the debate with several important take-aways.

Benefits of SUs:

  • Like many other compounds available today, SUs can help lower A1C, especially at the beginning of use in diabetes management.
  • SUs are low-cost and can be an economical method of managing diabetes, at least in the short term.
  • The CAROLINA study demonstrated that sulfonylurea glimepiride is safe for the heart in people with type 2 diabetes.

Challenges of SUs:

  • The CAROLINA study showed that SUs lead to a greater risk of hypoglycemia than other type 2 diabetes medications (not including insulin).
  • All SUs are associated with weight gain, which itself is associated with cardiovascular disease for many people with diabetes.
  • Not all SUs are created equally – each SU might have different health risks, so more research needs to be done on this front.
  • Preventing long-term complications is possible with GLP-1 agonists and SGLT-2 inhibitors – SUs confers no cardioprotective advantages.
  • Without the cost advantage in the short-term, no one would use SUs.
  • Clinical trial investigators are sometimes discouraged from using SUs in major trials, as we understand it.

If you do use an SU, and have experienced hypoglycemia or weight gain, we encourage you to ask your healthcare professional if there is an alternative. To increase safety, we encourage you to check blood sugar as often as you can (or start using a continuous glucose monitoring device, if you can get access – see here if you are on Medicare) to minimize the risk of hypoglycemia.

The Debate on Metformin and Insulin Use During Pregnancy Continues

Traditionally, healthcare professionals have been advised to use insulin to treat pregnant women who have type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes (GDM). Now, there is debate about whether metformin or other medications are equally effective alternatives to insulin.

Dr. Denice Feig presented data showing that in pregnant women with GDM, metformin use resulted in less maternal weight gain, less preeclampsia (pregnancy-related high blood pressure), lower birth weight, and less neonatal hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Additionally, there is no evidence that metformin causes any abnormalities in babies, and the drug may reduce insulin resistance in the fetus. During the first trimester of pregnancy, metformin may be a reasonable alternative, if not a first-line treatment equivalent, to insulin. It is also cheaper, easier to use, and poses less of a risk for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) than insulin.

While the data are promising, both Dr. Feig and Dr. Linda Barbour pointed out that long-term effects on the baby due to exposure to metformin during pregnancy may include a greater risk of being overweight, developing obesity, and having a higher BMI. Unfortunately, the data did not include pregnant women with type 2 diabetes; an ongoing study, MiTy, is currently studying these effects. Both Dr. Feig and Dr. Barbour emphasized that we need more data to decide the best treatment for pregnant women with diabetes – that may well be, and we also hope that better screening is in the works, so that those at risk of gestational diabetes can learn about it earlier and work with their healthcare teams to live with it successfully, which is eminently possible. Learn more about gestational diabetes in our recent article by Cheryl Alkon.

Nutrition, Exercise, and Mindset

New Physical Activity Recommendations for Adults and Children

Dr. Katrina Piercy and Dr. Ronald Sigal presented the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, with updates to the age-specific guidelines and evidence of even more health benefits. These are the recommendations for each age group:

  • Children ages 3-5 should be physically active throughout the day to support their growth, development, and motor skills. Though the US guidelines do not include a specific amount of time, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada recommend three hours per day.
  • Children ages 6-17 should do at least 60 minutes a day of moderate or vigorous physical activity.
  • Adults (under age 55) should do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) to 300 minutes (5 hours) each week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2.5 hours) each week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. We were slightly surprised not to see adults urged to exercise every day like former head of CMS/FDA Dr. David Kessler does in his recent acclaimed book, Fast Carbs, Slow Carbs.
  • Older adults (above age 55) should do the recommended aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities for adults. They should also incorporate balance and functional training, such as standing on one foot or ballroom dancing.

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How do you determine the intensity of exercise? Dr. Piercy recommends the “talk test”: someone doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity can talk, but not sing, during the activity, while a person doing vigorous-intensity activity cannot say more than a few words without pausing for breath.

The speakers noted that while the most health benefits come with at least 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, any activity is beneficial: any time spent sitting that is swapped out for exercise (even light activity,) can lead to short-term and long-term health benefits. Read more about the guidelines here.

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Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) 2020 Consensus Report Recommendations

A group of educators made a strong case for the greater use of diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES). The benefits are many, including improvements in clinical, behavioral, and psychosocial outcomes, and greater diabetes knowledge and self-care behaviors. Dr. Margaret Powers stressed that compared to other treatments prescribed by healthcare professionals, DSMES and medical nutrition therapy produce few to no negative side effects for people with diabetes and are low cost.

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The experts discussed low DSMES participation rates across the nation and the factors that reduce referrals to diabetes education. Evidence shows that less than 5% of people newly diagnosed with diabetes who have Medicare insurance, and 6.8% of privately insured people with diabetes, have used DSMES services. The 2020 DSMES Consensus Report was created to address these concerns by outlining steps healthcare professionals can take to help people access DSMES services. The report recommends that healthcare professionals make referrals and encourage participation in DSMES at four critical times in someone’s diabetes journey: (1) diagnosis, (2) annually or when not meeting treatment targets, (3) when complicating factors develop, and (4) when transitions in life and care occur. It also suggests that awareness of, and access to, DSMES must be expanded (culturally and geographically), and financial support should be provided for use of DSMES services.

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Food as Medicine! Geisinger’s Fresh Food Farmacy

Michelle Passaretti (Geisinger Health System) presented data on the success of the Fresh Food Farmacy initiative. Fresh Food Farmacy was developed to meet the health needs of people with diabetes in Pennsylvania who do not have access to healthy foods (also known as being food insecure). diaTribe interviewed two leaders from Geisinger in 2018, Dr. Andrea Feinberg and Allison Hess; now, Fresh Food Farmacy has provided 482,219 total meals.

The data speaks to the power of food as medicine! The program participants had a:

  • 2 percentage point reduction in A1C from a baseline of 9%
  • 27% reduction in fasting glucose
  • 13% reduction in cholesterol (including a 9.9% reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol)
  • 15% reduction in triglycerides

Fresh Food Farmacy also led to increased use of preventive care: flu shots increased by 23%, annual eye exams increased by 17%, and annual foot exams increased by 33%.

Compared to eligible individuals who did not participate, Fresh Food Farmacy participants saw:

  • 49% lower hospital admissions rates
  • 13% decrease in emergency department visits
  • 27% more primary care visits
  • 14% more endocrinologist visits

Participant surveys show significant improvements in quality of life, with 31% of people in the program rating their overall health as very good, compared to just 6% before participation. Additionally, 44% of Fresh Food Farmacy participants now rate their emotional and mental health as very good, compared to just 9% before the program. Passaretti emphasized that Fresh Food Farmacy is not a diet, but a lifestyle change, and that support for the individual’s entire household is necessary for success.

A Sneak Peek into the Film Blood Sugar Rising

Blood Sugar Rising is a film that powerfully articulates the need for a war on diabetes. During this panel moderated by our own Kelly Close, we heard from ADA CEO Tracey Brown, Rise and Root urban farmer Karen Washington, social media influencer and film star Nicole Egerer, film director David Alvarado, and incoming ADA Chief Scientific & Medical Officer Dr. Robert Gabbay.

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Many myths exist in diabetes. One is that if you get diabetes, it is your fault. Blood Sugar Rising dismantles some of these false narratives by showing the complexity of the disease and amplifying diverse voices of people in the diabetes community. Watch the film here if you are in the US and here if you are outside the US.

Tracey Brown ended with a powerful call to action: “What will we do when the burning bush stops burning? We need to move from words into action. We get one point for saying and nine points for doing. Each of us can use our voice, our monetary power, and our ears, and reach across the aisle to collaborate. This is what we need to do to bring diabetes down. We can make it happen, but only together. I’m full up of hope and courage that tomorrow is going to be better than today.”

Lifestyle Interventions for Type 2 Diabetes Remission

In a fascinating session on type 2 diabetes remission, several leaders in the field introduced data on how specific lifestyle interventions (diet and exercise) may help put type 2 diabetes into remission.

Alison Barnes presented data from the DiRECT trial, which focused on low-calorie diets (LCD). The trial compared an intervention group on an LCD (between 800-900 calories per day) to a control group receiving typical diabetes care. Remission was defined as achieving an A1C below 6.5% and stopping all diabetes medications. Results from the DiRECT trial were promising:

  • At one year: 4% remission in control group and 46% remission in the intervention group.
  • At two years: 3% remission in control group and 36% remission in the intervention group.
  • 64% of participants who lost more than 22 lbs (10 kg) were in remission at two years.
  • The intervention group dropped from 75% of participants on diabetes medications at baseline to 40% at two years (compared to 77% at baseline and up to 84% in the control group).
  • Average A1C decreased by 0.6 percentage points in the intervention group at 2 years.
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We thoroughly recommend Dr. Roy Taylor’s book Life Without Diabetes: The Definitive Guide to Understanding and Reversing Type 2 Diabetes – he provides a major connection to the DiRECT trial.

Next Dr. William Yancy spoke on low-carbohydrate diets (classified as less than 130 g carbs per day, with no overall calorie restrictions). In an analysis that compared the effects of nine different diets on glycemic outcomes in type 2 diabetes, the low-carb diet was ranked as the most effective dietary approach for lowering A1C.

Finally, Dr. Kristian Karstoft presented the U-TURN study on how exercise alone, or exercise and diet, may play a role in type 2 diabetes remission. U-TURN had two groups, one receiving standard care and one receiving intensive lifestyle intervention, which included diet and exercise components.

  • After 12 months, 37% of participants in the intervention group stopped using glucose-lowering medication and maintained glucose levels below the criteria for type 2 diabetes (effectively achieving remission).
  • Of the participants who achieved remission, the majority of them came from the group that consistently exercised the most.

The Need for a Personalized Approach to Obesity Treatment

Experts shared the latest data on different treatments for obesity. They focused on three approaches:

1. Lifestyle interventions:

  • The Look AHEAD trial tested whether reducing calories and exercising regularly would lead to diabetes remission. After one year, 11.5% of participants achieved diabetes remission with an average weight loss of 19 pounds (8.6 kilos). After four years, 7.3% of participants were able to maintain remission with an average weight loss of 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms).
  • The Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) tested whether calorie restriction alone had an effect on diabetes remission. After one year, 46% of people in this study with type 2 diabetes achieved remission; after two years, 70% of the people who had achieved remission were able to maintain remission.

Participants in Look AHEAD had more advanced diabetes than in DiRECT, leading to the big difference in remission rates. The speakers emphasized that the longer someone has been diagnosed with diabetes, the harder it is to achieve diabetes remission.

2. Obesity medication:

  • Just 2% of people living with obesity are managing the disease with medication. However, many obesity medications can lead to weight loss, prevention of diabetes, and diabetes remission.
  • Combination therapy has shown success for managing obesity and type 2 diabetes. A study testing tirzepatide (a dual GLP-1 and GIP receptor agonist) in people with type 2 diabetes found a 1.7-2% decrease in A1C and an average weight loss of 12 pounds in just 12 weeks.

3. Bariatric surgery:

  • Experts agreed that bariatric surgery should be considered as a treatment option for people with a BMI greater than 35. Bariatric surgery can also lead to sustained weight loss and a decrease in diseases associated with obesity, including sleep apnea and heart disease.
  • It’s clear that obesity treatments must be determined at individual levels – we know that so much more is possible for people with diabetes to reach healthier weights and will be returning to this topic. In the meantime, if changing your weight is of interest, talk to your doctor about how to do this in the best way for you.

How Might Type 1 Diabetes Affect the Gut Microbiome? How Can We Use the Gut Microbiome to Treat Type 1 Diabetes?

Though the science is not yet conclusive, research continues on the relationship between the gut microbiome (made up of all the bacteria that live in the human digestive tract) and type 1 diabetes autoimmunity. Dr. Eric Triplett reviewed studies of the gut microbiome in babies with high genetic risk for type 1 diabetes. Three of the studies (DIPP, Babydiet, and DIABIMMUNE) showed an association between the species of bacteria living in the gut and the onset of type 1 diabetes. He then presented a study using data from the general population in Sweden (ABIS), which compared the gut microbiome of children with low, neutral, or high genetic risk for type 1 diabetes. The study found that high genetic risk for type 1 diabetes is associated with changes in the gut microbiome early in life.

Dr. Emma Hamilton-Williams shared unpublished research on the effect of high-fiber dietary supplements on gut microbiome composition and diabetes management in 18 adults with type 1 diabetes. Fibrous food breaks down into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) when digested. SCFAs are known to support gut health and regulate the immune system. The study found that the high-fiber supplements affected the species of bacteria living in the gut as well as their function (though these returned to baseline after the diet ended). Participants with better-managed diabetes at baseline had a stronger response to the dietary change – and experienced changes in their glycemic management: A1C levels decreased and less daily insulin was required. Further research on short-chain fatty acid supplements could shed lead on diabetes treatment and prevention.

Real World Stories: Supporting People at Different Stages of Diabetes

Dr. Neesha Ramchandani presented her work on young adults living with diabetes (ages 18 to 30). Through interviews, she found four main challenges: finding a balance between diabetes and life, feeling in control of diabetes, navigating the hidden burden of diabetes within their social circles, and wanting a better connection with their diabetes healthcare professional. One participant said, “Diabetes is like having a full-time job… you can’t 100% turn off. It always has to be a part of your thought process.” diaTribe has resources for teens here.

We then heard from Dr. Della Connor and Dr. Gary Rothenberg on the need to care for people who are living with diabetes post-kidney transplants and post-amputations. In all three talks, the experts emphasized the need to:

  • Build trust and comfort between people with diabetes and healthcare professionals.
  • Incorporate perspectives based on gender, race, and ethnicity into care.
  • Recognize the importance of a team approach, including care-partners.

Access to Care and Policy 

Soda Taxes: Are They Working?

Dr. Lisa Powell (University of Illinois at Chicago) presented compelling evidence in support of sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes and their ability to reduce soda consumption. Evidence suggests that taxes do reduce the consumption of sugary beverages – a 38 percent reduction in Philadelphia, PA and 21 percent reduction in Seattle, WA, for example – and incentivize soda companies to decrease the amount of sugar in their products, especially when the tax is dependent on the drink’s sugar content. Research also shows that while some consumers replace sodas and sugary drinks with other forms of sugar, such as candy or chocolate milk, the most common substitute is water.

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Dr. Martin White (University of Cambridge) and Dr. Rafael Meza (University of Michigan) presented promising data on how SSB taxes are working in the United Kingdom and Mexico, respectively. UK consumers overall have been switching to drinks with less sugar and most companies have been reducing levels of sugar in their products; however, taxes have not had a dramatic negative impact on the sugary beverages industry’s revenues overall. Similarly, Dr. Meza showed that Mexico’s overall sugar consumption has decreased since the implementation of the SSB tax, having the largest influence on people who drink lots of sugary drinks, and he noted that the current tax, which is about 10% of the beverage price, would have a significantly larger impact if doubled.

Dr. Powell pointed out that the most effective taxes require careful design. To significantly curb consumption of sodas, the SSB tax should be added into the shelf price, rather than applied at the register, and the tax ought to apply to a broad base of sugary-drinks (including sodas, juices, sports drinks, etc.) to avoid substitutions. Moreover, researchers must be mindful of cross-border shopping – this is when consumers purchase their beverages in places where the SSB tax doesn’t apply. This tax avoidance can heavily impact the effectiveness of the tax: for example, in Philadelphia, PA, consumers buying SSBs outside of Philly reduced the the impact of the tax from a 51% reduction in SSB sales to a 38% reduction.

Effects of Health Policy on Diabetes Care

Professor Rebecca Myerson (from the University of Wisconsin) shared key findings of a study on the impact of Medicaid expansion for people with diabetes:

  • Medicaid prescriptions for insulin increased by about 40%, even with rising insulin prices, meaning that more people with diabetes are receiving treatment.
  • Prescriptions for metformin also increased, suggesting that more people are getting treatment for early-stage diabetes.
  • About one-third of the other prescriptions are for newer medicines (such as SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 agonists) – promising trends for preventing diabetes complications and saving significant costs down the road.

Dr. Kasia Lipska from Yale School of Medicine discussed the importance of coverage for essential medicines and pre-existing conditions – two health policy issues that are front of mind for many Americans as the November election approaches. In addition to Medicaid expansion, the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) provided coverage for “Essential Health Benefits,” which includes prescription drugs, mental health services, emergency services and hospital care, preventive services and chronic disease management, and more. Dr. Lipska shared a study that found the ACA reduced the percent of income spent on family medical costs for people ages 18-64 with diabetes. This reduction was especially true for people whose family income was in the lowest bracket ($0-34,999 per year).

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Importantly, ACA also prohibited health insurance companies from denying people coverage or charging higher costs to people who have “pre-existing conditions,” including diabetes. Given the significant improvements in coverage and care, Dr. Lipska emphasized that getting rid of the pre-existing conditions provisions would be “a disaster for people with diabetes” – presumably diaTribe readers in the US would agree! Over half of those surveyed were in favor of expanding Medicaid programs in their state – this doesn’t surprise us, since there are so many states that do not have favorable diabetes care programs (for example, see our article on CGM coverage for people on Medicaid; although this was not part of the ACA, many cite it as helping improve care quickly for those that are able to access the benefit). She shared results of a Kaiser Family Foundation survey that emphasized the need for ACA provisions:

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Whole-Population Interventions Aim to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

As type 2 diabetes rises in the United States (and around the world), organizations are working to prevent new cases and improve the health and wellness of entire communities. Simon Neuwahl (RTI International) showed models of the benefits of proposed changes, which includied soda taxes, worksite health promotion, and bike lanes. The models suggest that the introduction of these three societal reforms can reduce the rate of type 2 diabetes by 17% over the next ten years. In 2018, 1.4 million people were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the, US so a 17% decrease would prevent 2.4 million cases over ten years.

There is still a long way to go. The CDC is aiming for the rate of type 2 diabetes to drop by 21% by 2025. The efficacy of some reforms, like the soda tax, are well proven. But, experts like Professor Nicholas Wareham (University of Cambridge, England) believe that no single intervention can make a difference. Decreasing rates of type 2 diabetes will require societal and individual lifestyle reforms.

Thankfully, diverse groups recognize the need for holistic approaches to diabetes prevention. The CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program coordinates with both public and private organizations to connect people with diabetes or prediabetes to lifestyle change resources and programs. Neuwahl’s cost-effective model is adaptable to national, state, and local communities hoping to implement whole-population interventions. Together, his three proposed population-level reforms could directly improve the lives of 2.4 million people.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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