What are the Benefits of CGM?

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What are the Benefits of Continuous Glucose Monitoring?

The most important day-to-day element of managing your diabetes is knowing your blood sugar levels and acting appropriately to ensure they stay in the healthy range defined by your healthcare team. A finger-prick test gives you an accurate snapshot of your blood glucose at a single point in time. Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) gives you the whole story of your blood sugar – where it’s been in the past, where it is going and how it is trending over time. This gives people with diabetes key insight into how to manage their daily blood sugar levels and reduce their risk of long-term complications. 

What is Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) and How Does it Work?

Continuous glucose monitoring refers to the activity of constantly measuring blood sugar levels 24-hours a day – either in real-time or retrospectively. This is achieved with the help of wearable technology called a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). 

A CGM device has three parts: a sensor (worn on the arm or belly), a wireless transmitter and a display device. The display device could be a handheld reader, a mobile phone or even an insulin pump monitor.  

A CGM works by measuring the amount of glucose in your interstitial fluid – the fluid between your cells. Unlike a finger-prick test, the blood glucose reading from your interstitial fluid has a slight delay. However, the biggest advantage of CGM is that it tells you what your current levels are, where they have been and whether they are trending up or down. This allows you to make informed decisions about what action to take, if any. 

What are the Special features of a CGM?

A CGM device is always working and recording your blood sugar levels – whether you’re awake, asleep, eating or exercising. There are several types of CGMs available with different features that work with the blood glucose data that is collected 24 hours a day. Some special features might include:  

  • You can typically programme alarms for when your blood sugar goes too high or too low. 
  • You might be able to share your data with a family member or partner and programme alarms in case your blood sugar goes too high or too low (this is especially helpful in the case of monitoring your child). 
  • You can download the data onto a computer or tablet to easily see trends and patterns in your levels. 
  • You can use your smartphone instead of an additional reader. 

What are the Benefits of a CGM for Managing Diabetes?

There are many benefits to using continuous glucose monitoring to help manage your diabetes, including increased data insight. This insight can help you make more informed decisions about your day-to-day care and experience peace of mind and better long-term outcomes.  

Insight 

CGM allows you to connect the dots between glucose readings and get a more complete picture of your blood sugar levels: 

  • Track your blood glucose levels any time of the day or night. 
  • Understand what your blood sugar levels are doing at times when you don’t normally test, like when you are sleeping at night. 
  • Use the provided software to see visual trends of your data over time. 
  • Share your data with your diabetes team remotely.  
  • Get insight into how factors from your daily life including food, exercise, stress, medications, hormones and illness affect you. 

Informed decision-making 

With access to more information about where your blood sugar levels are headed, you can make better decisions:  

  • Programme alarms to alert you if your blood sugar is too high or too low. 
  • Take action sooner to prevent dangerous hypos. 
  • Tailor your insulin doses more carefully based on a better understanding of your blood sugar levels. 
  • Set up a safety net by sharing your data with a family member, partner or caregiver. 

Peace of mind  

Many CGM users report an increased peace of mind that comes from having easy access to their blood glucose levels as well as protection against sudden hypos: 

  • Overcome your fear of sudden hypos. 
  • Have more confidence in your decision-making ability when administering insulin. 
  • Reduce the number of finger-prick tests you need to do. 

Better long-term outcomes 

Better day-to-day management of your blood glucose levels means fewer complications and better overall health: 

  • Analyse your data with your diabetes team so they can help you come up with personalised strategies for your care. 
  • Improve your HbA1c level over time through better day-to-day blood glucose management.  

Are there any Disadvantages to Continuous Glucose Monitoring?

Wearable devices are not for everyone. There are some disadvantages of continuous glucose monitoring that you should take into consideration: 

  • You might become overwhelmed with the amount of information available. 
  • You might not like to wear the sensor or find it difficult to keep it in place while exercising or swimming. 
  • You will still need to do some finger-prick checks. 
  • You might not be eligible for CGM on the NHS and purchasing a device privately can be expensive. 

Get better insight into your Blood Sugar Levels With CGM

Understanding your blood glucose data is a critical aspect of managing your diabetes. Diabetes affects everyone differently and it can be challenging to predict how your body will respond to different factors like food, activity, stress, illness and more. That’s where CGM comes in.  

Continuous glucose monitoring gives people with diabetes easy access to their blood sugar levels day and night. A better understanding of your blood glucose and where it is headed can help you make informed decisions about insulin management and dosing.  

CGM systems have been shown to help users keep blood glucose levels stable, reduce both hypo and hyper episodes and decrease the risk of complications from diabetes. But starting CGM is not a quick fix. It works best when you work with your healthcare team to come up with tailored strategies for you. 

Get in touch with one of our experts today to discuss if CGM is right for you.  

Which Blood Glucose Monitoring System is Right for Me?

If you are trying to decide if either CGM or Flash is right for you, you should consider the following factors when evaluating a glucose monitoring solution: 

  • Data access – Both CGM and Flash allow you to download your information, share your results and see long-term trends and patterns. However, Flash requires that you scan your sensor at least every 8 hours to ensure uninterrupted access to your data. 
  • Integration with an insulin pump – If you would like to integrate your glucose monitoring with an existing insulin pump or potentially use one in the future, you should speak to your doctor about which CGM devices would be most suitable.  
  • Cost-effectiveness – Both CGM and Flash are more expensive than finger-prick testing alone. However, Flash is more cost-effective than real-time CGM.  
  • NHS eligibility – There are different eligibility criteria for receiving CGM and Flash on the NHS.  

You should always speak to your doctor about what system will best help you achieve your blood sugar goals.   

Flash vs. CGM: A Summary

The biggest benefit of using CGM or Flash is gaining better insight into your blood glucose levels so you can adjust your strategies for better glucose management. For people living with diabetes, these solutions mean fewer finger-prick testing, more insight and more peace of mind.  

However, it can feel overwhelming to determine which blood glucose monitoring system is best for you and if you are eligible for a system on the NHS. At the London Diabetes Centre, we work with our patients to find the right glucose monitoring solution for them.  

Get in touch today to speak to a member of our expert team about continuous glucose monitoring.  

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Carol Willis - Diabetes Clinic Facilitator

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