Type 1 diabetics need insulin every day to deal with their disease, but the life-saver comes with a potentially deadly side effect. Now a new system aims to keep patients safe.
"I went on a pump when I was in seventh grade," says Heidi Button who has type 1 diabetes.
For 18 years, Heidi Button has needed insulin to lower her blood sugars and to stay alive. But, like most Type 1 Diabetics, she fears her blood sugars could go too low.
"It just takes one low blood sugar to kill you," explains Button.
One in 20 type 1 diabetics will die of a low blood sugar. That's 411 people every day.
"They may be in a deep sleep and not know about it and therefore not respond," says Dr. Ruth Weinstock, MD, PhD, Professor of Endocrinology at SUNY Upstate Medical University.
That's where this technology comes in.
"Up to now, the glucose sensing devices and the pumps haven't been connected in that they don't talk to each other and do something about that blood sugar," explains Dr. Weinstock.
Now, if a patient doesn't respond to a low blood sugar alarm, the Veo pump automatically shuts off insulin delivery for up to two hours.
"That should be long enough to allow the blood glucose levels to return to normal," says Dr. Weinstock.
The device has helped Heidi when her alarm didn't wake her up.
“I slept right through it and I had no idea that my blood sugar was low," says Button.
Doctor Ruth Weinstock says the VEO could save lives.
"We hope that this would prevent those unnecessary deaths," says Dr. Weinstock.
The Veo pump has wrapped up phase three trials and is expected to get FDA approval sometime this year. Doctor Weinstock says it's already being used in Europe.
She believes this system is one of the first steps toward an artificial pancreas that could automatically regulate insulin levels.
TOPIC: New pump for diabetics
REPORT: MB # 3566
BACKGROUND: Close to 8% of the United States population has diabetes and out of all the people with diabetes, 5% of them have type 1 diabetes. (Source: www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov) Usually occurring in children, adolescents, and young adults, type 1 diabetes occurs when beta cells do not produce or produce very little insulin. Insulin is a hormone created by beta cells that are located in the pancreas. Without the right amount of insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of spreading into the cells and results in the body not being able to use this glucose for energy. The exact cause of type 1 diabetes remains unknown. Doctors believe it is an autoimmune disorder that starts as an infection that then can trigger the body to attack the beta cells. (Source: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
SYMPTOMS: Type 1 diabetes signs and symptoms can come quickly.
* When blood sugar is high, symptoms can include: being very thirty, feeling hungry, feeling fatigued, losing weight, having tingling feet, having blurry eyesight, urinating more often, stomach pain, flushed face, fruity breath odor, flushed skin, nausea, dry skin and mouth, and rapid breathing.
* Blood sugar can become low when diabetics take insulin. Symptoms usually appear when blood sugar falls below 70mg/dL, they include: hunger, weakness, sweating, headache, shaking, rapid heartbeat, nervousness. (Source: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
TREATMENT: Once the doctor analyzes the patients' blood sugar monitoring and urine testing, they will develop a diary of meals, snacks, and insulin injections that they should follow. Insulin lowers blood sugar by letting it leave the bloodstream and enter cells. All type 1 diabetes patients have to take insulin every day. Insulin is injected under the skin, but sometimes a pump can deliver the insulin all the time. Insulin injections depend on the individual person. The insulin amount has to be adjusted when they exercise, eat more or less food, travel, and when they are sick. One of the most important parts of treatment is managing blood sugar levels. Patients can check their blood sugar levels at home, usually by pricking their finger with a small needle called a lancet to get a tiny drop of blood. The blood is then placed on a strip and into the device to read. (Source: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
NEW TECHNOLOGY: A new technology, called the Veo insulin pump, is taking diabetes management to a new level. A risk of type 1 diabetes is the risk of death through low blood sugar. This pump monitors every waking and sleeping hour. It monitors and records glucose levels so the patient and doctor know exactly what is happening. It makes easy therapy adjustments and it warns when the glucose levels are off target. The pump will automatically stop insulin delivery when glucose levels are dangerously low to help reduce the chances of severe hypoglycemia. The pump is smaller than most mobile phones. It acts like a pancreas by pumping tiny amounts of insulin into the body all day. It can be clipped to a belt, kept in a pocket, or hid under the clothes. A tiny tube is connected from the pump to an even smaller tube (cannula) that sits under the skin. It can easily be disconnected and reconnected. The pump is awaiting FDA approval in the U.S., but is available in several countries. (Source: www.Medtronic-diabetes.co.uk)
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Ruth S. Weinstock, MD, PhD
Upstate Medical University, New York