Why the cap on testing strips? More checks means better diabetes control, study says

A recent study from the Jaeb Center for Health Research found that more frequent blood sugar testing with glucose strips was correlated with better diabetes management.

But the problem, medical experts say, is that both Medicare and private insurers limit the amount of blood-testing strips a patients can get--a maximum of three per day. The limits are in place because of the costs associate with the strips, which ring up at about 60 or 70 cents a strip.

More frequent testing means better A1C levels

Kellee Miller, a biostatistician at the Jaeb Center for Health Research in Tampa, Florida, and her colleagues collected data on 20,000 people and their blood sugar levels as they related to testing frequency.

The higher the percentage of a marker called hemoglobin A1C--an indicator of long-term blood sugar levels--the worse the blood sugar control.

The researchers found that participants who used strips 10 times a day had A1C levels of 7.6 percent, compared to 8.6 percent for those that checked 3-4 times in a day. Testing more than 10 times per day did not appear to make a positive difference.

"One percent for A1C is a huge difference," said Miller.

Why not give more strips?

Doctors say that getting more testing strips is an expensive process that involves lots of paperwork, but that the minimum amount doled out by insurance companies ought to be more.

"What's so strange and disturbing about this, it's not like people want to be doing this more often. If they only had to check once or twice a day, they would, but testing more is good for them," Dr. Robert Rushakoff, a diabetes expert at the University of California, San Francisco, told Reuters Health.

The American Diabetes Association recommends testing at least three times a day, but many doctors say that testing is necessary every time a diabetic eats.

"We are hopeful that future guidelines will better reflect our current understanding, from this study and others," Miller said.

Source: Fox News

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