With Pinpoint Accuracy

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Fifteen million people in the United States have diabetes, however more than five million of those people are unaware they have the disease. Each day, approximately 2,200 individuals are diagnosed with diabetes and almost 800,000 will be diagnosed this year, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Tips About Diabetes and Exercising

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States; it is a chronic disease and a silent killer with no cure. Many people first become aware they have diabetes when they develop other related conditions such as kidney disease, heart disease and stroke, nerve disease or even blindness. Diabetes also can cause sexual dysfunction in men such as impotence, and yeast infections or pregnancy complications in women.

Diabetes is caused by too much glucose in the blood. Glucose is the sugar that the body's cells use for fuel. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause other health problems. Sugar levels can be maintained and balanced with different treatments such as insulin shots, a good diet and exercise.

While a diabetes diagnosis can cause panic, depression and other stressful emotions, people with diabetes can live long, healthy and happy lives by educating themselves about the disease and all the related factors such as eating a healthy diet and maintaining good blood glucose levels.

Benefits of Testing

Close monitoring and tight control of blood sugar levels are necessary for a diabetic to lead a healthy lifestyle. Testing sugar levels requires pricking a finger to get a drop of blood, which is placed on a glucometer that analyzes the blood and produces a reading. This number indicates how high or low the glucose level is at that particular moment, letting users know if they need to eat in order to bring up the level, take an insulin shot or alter food intake in order to decrease the level. Some diabetics may need to test two or three times a day, while many must test as frequently as seven or eight times each day.

Close monitoring and tight control of blood sugar levels are necessary for a diabetic to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Glucometers come in all shapes and sizes with various functions such as memory and monthly averaging. These test results are important for diabetics and their physicians because they provide a larger picture for them to make changes in diet or insulin dosages.

Manufacturers are realizing that daily glucose testing is a taxing process for patients and are trying to design glucometers that are small and discreet, making it easier for diabetics to test while on-the-go or test anywhere without drawing attention from others.

Daily testings are a vital resource for diabetics to keep tight control of their sugar levels; however, multiple fingersticks are painful and often leave fingertips sore. This soreness can lead to fewer testings, which means less control for diabetics. Researchers and doctors have spent much time trying to develop a non-invasive form of testing so patients will have less pain, making them more compliant.

"In terms of trends that are out there, the industry is moving toward minimal invasive and non-invasive," said Jeff Christensen, communications manager, LifeScan, Milpitas, Calif.

One new product on the market is the Lasette from Albuquerque, N.M. - based Cell Robotics International Inc. This testing device uses a small laser that penetrates the skin and produces a drop of blood without the painful side effects that needles cause.

"The product was developed for two reasons. The first is that we have the expertise to make small lasers work effectively, and the second reason is we didn't see any other way to address the issues of pain, soreness and needle phobia for doing capillary blood sampling," said Ron Lorhding, chairman, president and CEO of Cell Robotics.

Researchers spent close to three years trying to understand what causes the pain and how it can be addressed and trying to structure the laserbeam with the right wavelength, pulse width and power to intersect the capillaries without causing pain.

The company chose a wavelength of laser light that comes from an erbium::YAG (yitrium, aluminum and garnett), which is a grown crystal that emits laser light at 2940 nanometers. The laser had to be strong enough to penetrate the skin without producing too much heat, which can cauterize the hole, stopping the bleeding process.

The Lasette should be set on a low laser setting and may need to be increased a few levels for first time use so the proper level can be determined. Users open the front of the lasette and a back stop turns the power on. A button on top of the unit is pushed which charges the machine, and users hit the button again and the laser comes out penetrating the skin.

"We're hoping to include an actual glucometer in the machine in the future," Lorhding said.

Cell Robotics has been marketing the Personal Lasette through several Diabetes journals and publications, hoping to spread the word about the unit.

"We've gotten feedback from several users who have tried the Lasette and the results have been positive," Lorhding said.

In terms of trends that are out there, the industry is moving toward minimal invasive and non-invasive.

The Lasette also can be used in clinical settings, which benefits diabetic patients because every three months they must undergo a painful ritual known as a Hemoglobin A1c test, which serves as a report card for patients by giving the doctor an average of sugar levels. This test requires pricking the finger and extracting enough blood for the test.

While daily testings of blood sugar may seem like a simple task, the pain and soreness associated with it can deter diabetics from testing, which can mean the difference between life and death.

Second site, or alternative site testing such as on arms and legs also is designed to help minimize the pain of blood sugar testing.

The One Touch Ultra from LifeScan features a smaller sample requirement, which is important, because there are not as many capillaries in the arms and legs so it can be difficult to retrieve a large blood sample.

"We had to bring the sample size down to accommodate alternative testing sites," Christensen said.

The One Touch Ultra glucometer also produces readings in less than five seconds and has a broad temperature range allowing for more accuracy.

"Some meters won't let you test if it's too cold or too hot," Christensen said. This product is really geared toward making testing easier and a lot more convenient, while minimizing pain for diabetes patients."

Other products on the market designed to help diabetics are skin creams for dry and itching skin, a side effect of diabetes. Orthopedic shoes, compression stockings and socks aid in maintaining good circulation, preventing diabetics from facing amputation due to poor circulatory health.

Staying Smart

Researchers and doctors are trying to make the lives of diabetics

easier and less painful with various new products such as the Lasette. However, the best tool for a diabetic and health care professionals is an educated mind.

Manufacturers and distributors need to be aware of the latest trends and technologies in testing techniques and new products. By staying informed, companies will be able to better serve their clientele and customers.

Each day, approximately 2,200 individuals are diagnosed with diabetes and almost 800,000 will be diagnosed this year.

It also is important for people with diabetes to stay informed. There are several medical journals and publications specifically designed for individuals with diabetes.

The Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation, Washington, D.C. organizes conferences and seminars for diabetics centered on various educational topics related to diabetic well being. They offer a free wellness telephone help line, which is staffed by a certified diabetes educator.

The Foundation offers free diabetes education, screenings, annual physical exams, eye, foot and dental exams, as well as blood pressure and glucose checks for homeless or underinsured diabetics.

This fall, the company hopes to launch its Direct-to-Consumer Magazine, which will be mailed to almost 250,000 people affected by diabetes.

Manufacturers, distributors and others can utilize these tools to stay informed and keep abreast of the trends in the diabetic industry.

Diabetes is a chronic condition with no cure. But it can be controlled. Through the use of various products such as glucometers and the new personal Lasette, diabetics can be more compliant and keep tighter control on sugar levels, decreasing the incidence of other related conditions such as heart disease and blindness.

Manufacturers and home medical equipment providers must stay informed about the needs of diabetics, as well as changes in the industry if they intend on keeping a foothold in the diabetic market.

Tips About Diabetes and Exercise

The following information was provided by Curative Health Services, a wound care management company. For more information, visit www.curative.com.

  • The first step for anyone beginning a new fitness program should be to get a thorough medical evaluation. That will help tailor the program to meet the specific needs of the individual.

  • While exercise can be a good thing for people with diabetes, it is especially important to wear properly fitting shoes and to check feet after exercising to ensure good foot health.

  • It is a good idea to drink fluids not only during exercise, but before and after, as well. Preventing dehydration and replenishing fluids are particularly important for people with diabetes.

  • If there are not other medical conditions that cause concern, people with diabetes can participate in the same exercise activities as other people. Since everyone is different, it is important to check with a physician to see if there are medical reasons to impose restrictions on activity.

  • For many people, walking is an excellent choice for controlling blood sugar levels, but it is important to check with a physician before incorporating walking or any other activity into an exercise program.

  • It is important to exercise, regardless of age or mobility limitations. It is especially important to do stretching-type warm-up exercises which may produce enough flexibility to allow increased activity.

  • If children have an interest in sports, diabetes shouldn't stop them from playing. Parents should check with a pediatrician to make sure there are no reasons for a child not to participate in sports.

  • Even in cases where Type 2 diabetes runs in families, regular exercise can fight insulin resistance and obesity. It can be enough to keep someone from developing Type 2 diabetes, in spite of family history of the disease.
This article appeared in the March 2001 issue, Vol. 9, No. 3, pg. 20

This article originally appeared in the March 2001 issue of HME Business.


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