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Monitoring Blood Glucose Levels for People with Type 1 Diabetes

2024/06/24

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The importance of monitoring 

Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels has many advantages, aiding individuals in: 

  1. Understanding how their bodies respond to various factors such as diet, insulin physical activity and stress 
  2. Making informed daily decisions to maintain blood glucose within an optimal range 
  3. Enabling healthcare professionals to provide more effective support 
     

Methods of monitoring blood glucose levels: 

  1. Finger-prick testing 
  2. Flash glucose monitoring 
  3. Continuous glucose monitoring 
  4. Glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) testing 

In general, individuals with Type 1 Diabetes find flash glucose monitoring or continuous glucose monitoringmore beneficial than occasional finger-prick testing. 

It is advisable to consult with your healthcare team to maximise the utility of glucose data and to establish personalised blood glucose targets.  

Targets may vary depending on individual circumstances. For instance, a higher target may be set for those experiencing frequent hypoglycaemia. On the other hand, lower targets may be advisable for those who are pregnant or planning to conceive. 

Finger-prick Testing

This method involves obtaining a blood sample to measure glucose levels at a specific moment using a glucose meter. Further information on utilising a glucose meter can be found here. 

Here is an example of blood glucose targets for finger-prick testing

Blood glucose targets

Blood glucose targets vary from person to person. Your healthcare team will work with you to determine your individual targets. 

Flash glucose or continuous glucose monitoring sensors

These devices measure glucose levels via a sensor placed under the skin. They provide frequent readings from the interstitial fluid, reducing the need for regular finger-pricking. 

These sensors offer real-time insights into glucose levels fluctuations throughout the day (Figure 1). Some sensors might require calibration with daily finger-prick

Example of continuous or flash glucose monitoring reading

A key feature of these sensors is the ‘time-in-range’ metric, representing the percentage of timeyour glucose levels remain within the target range. To accurately track this metric, it's essential to input the correct target glucose rangeinto the system. 

For example, a goal might be to spend over 70% of time within a target rangeof 4-10 mmol/L and less than 5% of the time below 4 mmol/L. 

Time-in-range

For additional details on flash glucose monitoring, click here. 

HbA1c (Glycated hemoglobin)

HbA1c is a laboratory test conducted every three to four months at a clinic. It estimates your average blood glucose over this period and is reported as a percentage (%) or mmol/mol. HbA1c targets typically range from 6 to 7%, but may be adjusted based on individual circumstances, such as higher targets for certain conditions or lower targets for those planning pregnancy. 

Unlike finger-prick testing or glucose sensors, HbA1c provides a single reading each quarter, offering a broad overview rather than detailed daily or moment-to-moment glucose levels.  

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