Is a CGM Right for Me?

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Is CGM Right for Me?

Many people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes who take insulin could benefit from continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). CGM is wearable technology that can be used as a standalone system or together with an insulin pump. There are many advantages to using CGM, but the chief benefit is the insight that it provides around your blood glucose levels which can help you better manage your diabetes. This guide will help you understand if continuous glucose monitoring is the right fit for you.  

What is Continuous Glucose Monitoring? (CGM)

Checking your blood sugar frequently is an important part of diabetes management. A continuous glucose monitoring device is wearable technology that allows you to access your blood sugar levels at a glance – either via a handheld reader or a compatible smartphone.  

Continuous glucose monitoring allows you to access data in real-time or retrospectively. It can be used as a standalone device or as part of an integrated solution with your insulin pump. 

A CGM works by measuring the amount of glucose in your interstitial fluid – the fluid between your cells. Unlike a finger-prick test which is an accurate snapshot of your blood sugar level at a single point in time, the blood glucose reading from your interstitial fluid has a slight delay. 

Do I need CGM to Manage my Diabetes?

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 set by your healthcare team.  

You can regularly check your blood sugar levels by doing finger-prick tests. The results from a finger-prick test show just one snapshot of your blood sugar at a single point in time. CGM 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. 

If you would like to have more information about how your daily life affects your blood sugar levels and improve your daily glucose levels, then continuous glucose monitoring could be a good option for you. 

Who Could Benefit from CGM?

Continuous glucose monitoring might be right for adults and children if any of the following statements apply: 

  • You take insulin via injections or a pump. 
  • You are pregnant and have diabetes. 
  • You have trouble recognising the symptoms of low blood sugar (hypo unawareness).  
  • You have frequent, severe hypos. 
  • You suffer from anxiety or fear of experiencing hypos. 

Can I Use a CGM and an Insulin Pump at the Same Time?

Yes, continuous glucose monitoring can be used as part of an integrated solution with an insulin pump. Both can be either used as standalone systems or together if they are compatible. There are some benefits to using them together in an integrated system, such as automatically shutting off your insulin delivery from the pump if your blood sugar drops too low. However, not all devices are compatible so you should research compatibility before making a decision.  

What are the Benefits of Using a CGM?

There are several key advantages to using a CGM device: 

  • You will get a better picture of your glucose levels every day. 
  • You can take action to avoid dangerous hypos. 
  • You can set alarms if your blood sugar goes too high or low. 
  • You can share data with your family or healthcare team. 
  • You might see an improvement in your HbA1c levels over time. 
  • You might be able to reduce the amount of finger-prick tests you need to do.

 

To learn more about the benefits of Continuous Glucose Monitors, read our in-depth guide here.

Is CGM Offered by the NHS?

There are strict criteria for eligibility for CGM on the NHS. NICE provides guidelines on eligibility and you will need to meet the criteria to get funding. Unfortunately, the current guidelines recommend against offering CGM routinely to all people with type 1 diabetes, so it is not enough to have diabetes and take insulin injections to be eligible.  

The good news is that NICE is currently drafting new guidance around CGM which will ideally lead to an expansion of use for people with diabetes, including all adults and children with type 1 diabetes.  

How Much Does a CGM Cost?

Estimated prices vary greatly but you should expect that a standalone CGM (one that is not part of an integrated insulin pump solution) costs approximately £1,000. Monitors that work with an insulin pump cost approximately £500. Sensors are priced from £40 to £60.  

Flash glucose monitoring (Flash) is a type of CGM that requires that you scan (or flash) the sensor on your arm using a handheld reader or smartphone to access your blood sugar level. Flash can be more cost-effective than other CGM systems. The cost is £115 for a starter pack of a reader and 2 sensors and £50 for a replacement sensor.  

How can I Choose the Right CGM?

Choosing the right continuous glucose monitoring device is a big decision. There are several factors to take into consideration when evaluating devices. 

 

Information retrieval – Consider if real-time information is important to you or if you are happy to scan your sensor to retrieve your data. Real-time CGMs automatically transmit your information to a reader or smartphone. Flash glucose monitoring requires that you scan your reader or smartphone over the sensor to access the data. Both real-time CGM and Flash allow you to download your data to a computer or other device to review your information for patterns and trends.  

Integration with an insulin pump – Some CGMs are standalone, which means they are used on their own. Others can be integrated with an insulin pump. Before choosing a suitable CGM device, you should consider if insulin pump compatibility is important to you.  

Cost – Depending on your ability to meet the eligibility criteria for funding by the NHS, you may need to purchase a pump privately. Costs of CGM vary widely and you must also factor in the price of replacement sensors (which should be replaced every 7-14 days).  

Support from your healthcare team – You should always ensure that your healthcare provider is able and willing to support the use of any CGM solution you might choose. Your team can help you assess what might be the best choice for your specific needs and how to make the most of the insight you get from your CGM to better manage your diabetes. 

Speak to Our CGM Experts

There are many factors to consider when deciding if continuous glucose monitoring is right for you. At The London Diabetes Centre, we will help you with a detailed assessment to see if CGM is a good fit for you.  

Call us today to arrange an appointment with one of our diabetes experts.  

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Carol Willis - Diabetes Clinic Facilitator

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