Insulin Adjustments Made Easier

Diabetes patients on insulin therapy may benefit from new software tool

(RxWiki News) No matter what type of diabetes you have, you eventually may need insulin treatment. Most insulin users have trouble reaching their blood sugar targets. Luckily, there are tools that can help.

The Diabetes Insulin Guidance System (DIGS) - a tool that automatically tells patients how much insulin they need - appears to be a safe and effective way to improve blood sugar control in patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who are using insulin.

"Carefully watch your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes."

Insulin is a natural hormone that helps turn a sugar called glucose into fuel for the body. If you have diabetes, your body either does not make enough insulin or does not respond normally to insulin. In this case, you may need to take insulin.

According to Richard M. Bergenstal, M.D., of the International Diabetes Center at Park Nicollet in Minneapolis and lead author of the recent study on DIGS, most diabetes patients using insulin do not reach their target for blood sugar control.

These patients are at risk of many diabetes-related complications, including heart disease, kidney disease, and amputation.

In their study, Dr. Bergenstal and colleagues wanted to see the DIGS software would be a safe and effective way to give patients a weekly adjustment of their insulin doses.

Research has shown that frequently measuring and adjusting a patient's required insulin dosage is key to getting good blood sugar control. However, it is often too difficult to continuously change a patient's insulin dosage.

The study's findings show that the DIGS software may reduce this difficulty.

"The proprietary DIGS technology developed by Hygieia, Inc. measures blood glucose, analyzes patterns in those measurements, and automates insulin dosage [measurements and adjustments]," explains Dr. Bergenstal.

"In this study, our team found that DIGS works amazingly well," he says.

For the study, the DIGS software was used to determine patients' insulin dosage depending on their blood sugar levels. Over the course of 12 weeks, the software made 1,734 changes to the insulin doses of 38 diabetes patients. The researchers gave these new dosage instructions to the patients every week without changing treatment, except for two cases.

When the study finished, patients' HbA1c levels (a measure of blood sugar over three months) dropped from 8.4 percent to 7.9 percent.

Average blood sugar levels improved from 174.2 mg/dL at the beginning of the study to 163.3 mg/dL at the end.

"This demonstrates the possibility that DIGS could automate weekly dosage adjustment safely and effectively - something that none of our current tools is capable of achieving," says Dr. Bergenstal.

One of the patients involved in he study achieved especially great results. Referring to this patient, Mary Johnson, B.S., R.N., C.D.E., of the International Diabetes Center, says, "We accomplished in 12 weeks using DIGS what our usual standard of care might have taken three years to do."

This Phase 1 clinical trial, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, appears online in the journal Diabetes Technology and Therpeutics.

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Review Date: 
May 8, 2012