New research has highlighted the ‘life-changing’ benefits of using flash blood glucose monitoring for people with type 1 diabetes.
The Diabetes UK-funded research found that the benefits seen in the study are likely to lead to a reduction in the risk of future diabetes complications.
The team found that using Flash reduces high and low glucose levels in people with type 1 diabetes, improving their overall blood glucose levels.
Flash involves a small sensor that sits just underneath the skin which continuously measures glucose. Users flash a reader or smartphone over the sensor to see what blood glucose levels are doing minute by minute. If their levels are going too high or too low, the device will alert them.
The latest study, which took place across eight centres across the UK, involved 156 people with type 1 diabetes who had above-target blood glucose levels. It set out to examine how second-generation Flash technology compares to traditional finger prick testing in terms of managing their condition.
At the start of the study both groups had similar three-month average blood glucose levels. For 24 weeks, half of the participants monitored their glucose levels with Flash and the other half continued using finger prick blood testing.
After 24 weeks, those participants who used Flash had reduced their HbA1c from an average of 8.7 per cent to 7.9 per cent – a reduction of 0.8 percentage points. Lowering HbA1c to this extent can reduce the risk of developing diabetes complications in the future by up to 40 per cent.
In comparison, those in the finger prick group had reduced their HbA1c on average by only 0.2 percentage points by the end of the study.
In addition, those using the Flash technology spent an extra 130 minutes a day with their blood glucose levels in the target range (between 3.9 and 10 mmol/L) and 43 minutes per day less with dangerously low blood glucose levels (below 3.9 mmol/L).
Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: “This study confirms the radical improvements Flash can bring to the lives of people living with type 1 diabetes, helping them to reduce their blood glucose levels – protecting against short and long-term diabetes complications – and removing some of the relentless burden of managing the condition.
“It is crucial that everyone who is eligible for this transformative technology is able to access it. Following NICE’s recommendation of flash or CGM for all adults with type 1 diabetes, these results are a reminder of the benefits of this innovative technology, driving home the importance of equitable access to this life-changing intervention across the UK.”
Dr Lalantha Leelarathna, Diabetes UK-funded researcher at the University of Manchester, said: “Ability to monitor glucose without painful finger-sticks is life-changing for many people living with type 1 diabetes.
“With the use of second generation intermittently scanned continuous glucose monitoring, we found significant improvements in average glucose levels and a reduction in both high and low glucose levels, helping people to spend more time with normal glucose levels.”
Dr Leelarathna added: “Further treatment satisfaction and glucose monitoring satisfaction were also higher in those using glucose sensors.
“We call for universal funding of this life-changing technology for all people living with type 1 diabetes across the world. Further work is underway to assess the cost-effectiveness of this technology.”
Flash technology was first available on the NHS in 2017, with more than half of those with type 1 diabetes in England using the technology.
Earlier this year, NICE recommended Flash or other continuous glucose monitoring for use in all adults with type 1 diabetes, and Flash for some people with type 2 diabetes who have two or more insulin injections a day.
To read the study, click here.