Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs)
CGMs have become a powerful tool for managing blood sugar in people living with diabetes.
This advanced tech, however, is underutilized by the type 2 community due in large part to a lack of insurance coverage and doctors’ reluctance to prescribe CGMs.
But new data recently released by Abbott showing the positive effects their FreeStyle Libre system with real-world type 2 users, makes a strong case for more widespread use of these blood sugar monitoring devices.
FreeStyle Libre Benefits
Reduces A1c Regardless of Insulin Use
The observational, retrospective analysis found that patients who began using a FreeStyle Libre CGM saw, on average, a 0.8% A1c drop after six months and an overall 0.6% drop after one year.
Reduction in A1c was seen in both type 2 patients using long-acting insulin as well as those not on any insulin treatment.
In fact, those not on insulin saw the greatest average decrease in A1c, at 0.9% after six months and 0.7% after a year.
Data released from a previous retrospective study has already shown the benefit of the FreeStyle system for use in type 2 diabetics who take multiple daily insulin shots. In that study, patients saw their A1c drop by almost a full percentage point after just three months.
CGM Use May Rival Insulin Use in Effectiveness
One of the most surprising findings of this analysis was that the use of the FreeStyle system appeared to be just as effective in lowering A1c as insulin treatment.
- Patients with poorly controlled diabetes who were put on a long-acting insulin treatment saw their A1c drop by an average of 0.99% after six months
- Patients with poorly controlled diabetes who began utilizing a FreeStyle Libre saw their A1c drop by an average of 1.56% after six months
Prescribing a CGM system instead of insulin may be just as effective in treating type 2 diabetes.
Considering the side effects and greatly increased risk of hypoglycemia associated with insulin use, and the reluctance of most doctors and patients to start insulin therapy, this finding has huge implications for improving care.
- By prescribing a Libre in place of insulin, a patient’s risk of hospitalization due to extremely low blood sugar would greatly decrease
- Given that the FreeStyle Libre is covered under most insurance plans and available through the pharmacy, this trade-off would likely also save the patient money in the long run
FreeStyle Use Reduces Hospitalizations
Beyond giving patients better control of their blood sugar, the use of the FreeStyle system also appears to reduce complications from the disease.
- The data analysis found that patients using a FreeStyle Libre had a 30% reduction in acute diabetes-related events such as severe high or low blood sugar requiring hospitalization
- A study released earlier this year showed a 47% reduction in DKA hospitalizations among type 2 patients on the system
The use of a CGM even appears to have a significant impact on long-term health, as Libre users saw a 13% reduction in all-hospitalizations.
What Makes These Devices So Effective?
CGMs like the FreeStyle Libre give diabetics a way to easily, discreetly, and painlessly check their blood sugar any time day or night.
- The apps and devices associated with the system also allow doctors and patients to review long term data and graphs to see where changes need to be made and how different food choices are affecting blood sugar in the short and long run.
- Because so much about blood sugar control centers around managing your diet, exercise, and medication in relation to blood sugar patterns, being able to see how your blood sugar trends throughout the day, is vitally important to finding management techniques that actually work.
While a fairly complete picture of blood sugar trends can be accomplished with multiple daily finger-sticks, most patients find it difficult to keep up with this degree of management.
CGMs reduce a patient’s management burden while offering much better information.
The affordability of products like the FreeStyle Libre system (which costs around a third of other CGM systems) combined with their clear potential to reduce negative outcomes, decrease A1c, and decrease health costs are all reasons we should see this device more readily utilized more often in the type 2 community.