Friday, November 11, 2011

A List of Interesting Blood Sugar Monitors

The Accu Chek Voicemate-this discontinued meter currently sells for over a thousand dollars (originally it sold for about five hundred dollars). In addition to talking, it had the unusual feature of reading off and identifying insulin types! It was intended for blind users and incorporated the Accu Chek
It used 4 microliters of blood and couldn't operate in cool (less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit) weather or in very hot (over 104 degrees Fahrenheit) weather.
The newer model of this meter, the Accu Chek Voicemate plus takes 1.5 microliters of blood but still can't deal with bad weather. The Accu Chek Voicemate Plus is not available in the US.

The Nova Max- this underrated meter uses two kinds of test strips- one for measuring blood sugar, one for measuring blood ketones. As a blood sugar meter, it uses the smallest blood sample of any meter- 0.3 microliters- but is not known for being especially accurate (although it meets FDA standards). As a blood ketone meter, it uses 0.6 microliters of blood. The Novamax is for sale currently (I use it as a ketone meter only). Insertion of strips into the meter is somewhat more difficult than standard.

The Accu Chek Aviva- my current meter. This is a larger clunkier version of the Accu Chek Nano- they both use Accu Chek Aviva test strips, which use 0.6 microliters of blood. The Nano is smaller and has a backlight but is not available in the United States. These strips incorporate numerous filters and checks and are known for being more accurate than most.

One Touch- the one touch line of meters includes the One Touch, One Toucher 2, One Touch Ultra Mini (in many colors), and One Touch Ultra. The use either of two different types of test strips- currenly one with blue stripes which advertises that it double checks its own results. They use 1 microliter of blood. The One Touch Ultra communicates with Dexcom and Minimed CGMs for automatic calibrations (which may or may not be desired).

The Accu Chek Compact is an all in one meter that stores a drum of test strips inside the meter, and has a detachable lancing device on the side. I don't like it because it uses 1.2 microliters of blood and the lancing device is a softclix and I prefer a multiclix.

The Glucowatch was the major precursor to CGMs. In fact, it was a continuous glucose monitor. Launched in 2002, the glucowatch was worn like a wristwatch and included two electrodes. It was moderately accurate- roughly as accurate as modern CGMs, which is to say that it had problems but was pretty good. Unfortunately, it caused skin problems for most users- including burns- and it cost a lot. Like the modern CGMs, it needed calibrations, incorporated a warm up period, and needed replacement sensors. Although three different models were released- the original Glucowatch, Glucowatch Biographer, and Glucowatch Biographer II- it was discontinued in 2007 and sales of sensors stopped in 2008.

There are many blood sugar meters for sale currently, because it is a high profit industry. I am aware of dozens of companies making meters- most of the companies that make meters make more than one. The things to look for in a meter, in my opinion, are test strip cost, accuracy, and blood sample size requirements (0.3 microliters is the smallest you can currently get and 0.3 to 1.5 is about the range. It matters more for some people than others). Extras that some people like are memory and averaging features, communication with a pump or CGMS, backlight, incorporated lancing devices or test strips, size, color and skins (stickers that go over the meter), display, and talking.

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