Medtronic's insulin pump prevents dangerous night blood sugar lows, study finds

In the first comprehensive trial of its kind, a study from Medtronic Inc. showed that its advanced insulin pump can safely shut itself off when blood sugar gets too low, adjusting insulin delivery accordingly without patient intervention.

The research was presented at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting in Chicago, revealing that the pumps can help prevent dangerously low blood sugar levels at night by 32 percent compared with devices that don't have the automatic suspension function.

Patient peace of mind

The device, which has been sold outside of the U.S. and is currently under FDA review for approval, sounds an alarm when blood sugar is too low, alerting the patient to eat or drink to correct the imbalance. Yet sometimes patients sleep through the alarm, putting themselves in situations that can cause seizures, coma or even death.

“Automating any insulin delivery can be a win for the patient,” Francine Kaufman, vice president of global medical affairs in Medtronic’s diabetes business, told
Bloomberg. “It doesn’t take much more than intuition to know that stopping insulin when someone is on their way to being too low is a good thing.”

The research also showed that blood sugar didn't reach excessively high levels after the suspension. In general, patients' glucose control wasn't adversely affected, and hypoglycemic episodes that did happen were shorter in duration – and only occurred in patients who had insulin pumps that didn't have the suspension feature.

Automated pancreas

Medtronic Inc. is currently working toward a program that will help anticipate blood sugar levels to ensure they stay in a safe range, along with the technology that can supply other hormones that affect blood sugar levels.

“This technology promises to be valuable to patients today and is a key step in the development of a fully automated artificial pancreas for people with diabetes,” said Rich Bergenstal, executive director of the International Diabetes Center at Park Nicollet in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Source: Bloomberg

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