Is blood sugar monitoring without diabetes worthwhile?

Right here’s an advert you haven’t seen, but it surely could possibly be coming quickly: A person jogs alongside a dust path meandering by idyllic countryside. He pauses at an overlook and glances down at his cellphone. The cellphone display screen flashes a quantity, telling him his blood sugar is regular. He smiles and resumes his run.

What’s completely different about this advert, you marvel? The jogger doesn’t have diabetes. So, how does his cellphone know his blood sugar? And why, in the course of a run, does he wish to know the consequence? Learn on.

In the event you don’t have diabetes, do you have to monitor your blood sugar?

A number of firms are working exhausting to make this kind of advert a actuality, as they start advertising implantable blood sugar measuring units to individuals with out diabetes. Referred to as steady glucose monitoring techniques, or CGMs, they’re typically utilized by individuals who do have diabetes. These firms might reap monumental income by convincing wholesome individuals to begin monitoring blood sugar. Already, many people monitor our weight, coronary heart price, or steps per day.

CGMs use tiny sensor wires, or filaments, that pierce the pores and skin to incessantly and simply assess blood sugar ranges. The filaments stay in place, often on the higher arm or stomach, protected by an adhesive patch. Outcomes are displayed on a receiver or transmitted to the person’s cellphone.

The place’s the well being profit on this?

Is there any proof of profit if individuals with out diabetes monitor their blood sugar ranges with CGMs? There’s little printed analysis to assist reply this query.

The very best research I might discover discovered nothing significantly shocking: amongst 153 individuals who didn’t have diabetes, about 96% of the time blood sugar ranges had been regular or practically so. In truth, lots of the irregular ranges had been thought of implausible or a mistake. One other small research checked out sedentary people with out diabetes who had been obese or overweight. Individuals accomplished a counseling session in regards to the results of bodily exercise on blood sugar and used a CGM system and an exercise tracker for 10 days. Afterward, they reported feeling extra motivated to train.

However I might discover no printed research suggesting that monitoring interprets into improved well being. Effectively, wait: one maker of a CGM system posted a research on its web site reporting higher blood sugar outcomes amongst wholesome individuals utilizing their product. Nonetheless, the research wasn’t printed in a peer-reviewed medical journal, it lacked particulars that will permit essential analysis, and it examined what appear to be arbitrary ranges of blood sugar values, not precise well being outcomes resembling coronary heart illness, nerve harm, or hospitalizations.

So, till extra research show the worth of CGM for individuals with out diabetes, we received’t know whether or not the price and time it takes to implant one in every of these techniques is undertaking something, or is simply the newest well being monitoring fad losing effort and cash.

Talking of price, CGMs aren’t low cost: they will price a number of thousand {dollars} a 12 months. And it’s extremely unlikely that well being insurers will cowl CGMs for individuals with out diabetes, not less than till there’s compelling proof that they’re truly useful.

Blood sugar monitoring for individuals with diabetes presents simple well being advantages

For individuals with diabetes, a significant aim of remedy is to maintain the blood sugar near the conventional vary. This helps to forestall signs and issues, extend life, and enhance high quality of life.

The event of CGM units that may incessantly and simply monitor blood sugar ranges with out finger sticks has revolutionized look after tens of millions of individuals with diabetes. Apart from offering outcomes of blood sugar ranges, some units have alarm settings that alert the person, or different individuals, if blood sugar turns into dangerously low or excessive. And a few techniques can transmit outcomes on to the person’s physician, if desired.

If information is energy, why not monitor your blood sugar?

So, why would an individual who doesn’t have diabetes wish to monitor their blood sugar? Attainable causes embody

  • Detecting prediabetes. In prediabetes blood sugar is barely excessive, however not excessive sufficient to satisfy the definition of diabetes. For wholesome individuals, blood sugar testing is often advisable each three years or so; if prediabetes is identified, repeat testing is advisable extra typically, not less than yearly. CGM would possibly permit earlier prognosis of prediabetes or diabetes. This could possibly be significantly useful for individuals at greater danger for diabetes as a consequence of household historical past or different components, and other people taking medicines that may elevate blood sugar.
  • The notion of “optimizing” blood sugar for peak psychological or bodily efficiency. Not surprisingly, some CGM makers counsel figuring out your blood sugar might help you make modifications to maintain it in an “supreme vary” that can allow you to carry out your greatest, stop diabetes, or enhance well being in another means. For instance, you would possibly change what or once you eat. None of those advertising notions has been confirmed, and even nicely studied. And guess what — even the best blood sugar vary for an individual who isn’t diabetic is unsure.
  • The phantasm of management. Having extra details about your physique could offer you a way of management over your well being, even when you take no quick motion.
  • Curiosity. Let’s face it, it’s tempting to collect details about our our bodies that may be fascinating (even once we’re unsure what to do with it).

However really, information that’s ineffective, redundant, or inaccurate doesn’t make you highly effective! It could even be dangerous. For instance, if biologically insignificant drops in blood sugar lead you to snack extra (“to keep away from hypoglycemia”), you would achieve weight and really improve your danger of creating diabetes. If the monitoring system generally gives inaccurate info or false alarms, pointless nervousness, calls or visits to the physician, visits to an emergency room, and even inappropriate remedy could observe.

The underside line

Sadly, some makers of CGM techniques aren’t ready for strong analysis outcomes to market these units to wholesome individuals. So, customers and advertising professionals — not researchers or medical doctors — could wind up driving demand for the product.

For any new expertise there’s a scientific studying curve to determine when to make use of it. For my part, we’re on the very starting of the training curve for house monitoring of blood sugar in individuals with out diabetes. Earlier than shopping for into what often is the subsequent fad in well being monitoring, I believe we have to be taught much more.

There’s knowledge within the teachings of one in every of my favourite professors in medical college: “Simply since you can measure one thing doesn’t imply you ought to.”

Comply with me on Twitter @RobShmerling

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