For diabetics, keeping your glucose level in the optimum range is very important – If you don’t, your diabetes can cause serious health complications.
To check their glucose level, many diabetics use a glucose meter (a.k.a. a glucometer) – This involves regularly pricking your finger and feeding your blood into the meter.
However, another option is to use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). This can help you monitor your body’s glucose level at all times.
Here’s everything you need to continuous glucose monitors:
And if you’re interested in getting a flash or continuous glucose monitor (or you’ve been advised to get one by your doctor), you should know the key features and differences between the available continuous glucose monitoring devices in India:
A continuous glucose monitor (commonly known as a CGM) constantly monitors your body’s glucose levels.
How does a continuous glucose monitor work? It works by placing a tiny sensor beneath your skin (often on your arm or abdomen). Every few minutes, the sensor measures your glucose levels. It then sends that information to an attached transmitter, which transmits it to a receiving device (such as a smartphone or even an insulin pump).
While a standard blood glucose monitor measures your body’s blood glucose level, a continuous glucose monitoring device is slightly different. A CGM measures interstitial glucose (the glucose stored in the fluid around your cells) – The reading you get from interstitial glucose is slightly delayed compared to blood glucose, but it closely follows the blood glucose level and is still a reliable measure.
With a continuous glucose monitoring system, you get access to many more glucose level readings than if you were using a blood glucose monitor. This can help you better understand your glucose levels, identify patterns, and learn how your body reacts to things like meals, exercise and daily medication.
As for who should use a continuous glucose monitor, continuous glucose monitoring devices provide the most benefit to people with type 1 diabetes. However, people with other types of diabetes (including type 2, LADA, and gestational diabetes) can also benefit from using a CGM.
Your doctor may advise you to get a continuous glucose monitoring system if you:
You may have also heard the term ‘flash glucose monitor’. This term is sometimes used when referring to a continuous glucose monitor, and vice versa. However, there is a difference.
While a flash glucose monitor and a continuous glucose monitor work slightly differently, they still achieve the same goal. This means that diabetics can usually choose between them based on their needs and key considerations.
Research has shown that using a continuous glucose monitor can help diabetics improve their control over their glucose levels and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia.
Using a continuous glucose device or flash glucose monitor gives many benefits. You can:
Both flash glucose monitors and continuous glucose monitors can be of great help to a diabetic.
However, before you buy one, you need to identify what the availability is like for flash glucose monitors and continuous glucose monitoring devices in India. This helps ensure that when you buy your CGM you’re getting a product that is locally supported and easy to maintain and update – It’s also important to understand how much does a continuous glucose monitor cost.
The two most widely available flash and continuous glucose monitoring devices in India are:
Other popular options include Dexcom G6 and Eversense, but these CGMs aren’t currently available in India.
The FreeStyle Libre is a flash glucose monitoring device manufactured by Abbott Laboratories. It was launched in 2015 as a flash glucose monitoring device that can link to a mobile phone or a tablet.
Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre is mainly intended to help type 1 diabetics, but some type 2, LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes in adults), and gestational diabetics also prefer it – This is thanks to its non-prick technology, convenience, and the increased protection any diabetic using the FreeStyle Libre has against hypoglycemia.
Since the FreeStyle Libre CGM’s launch, it’s been one of the market leaders. Abbott intends to frequently upgrade the FreeStyle Libre system, improving its ability to provide accurate readings of glucose levels – The next generation of the FreeStyle Libre is the FreeStyle Libre 2, but this isn’t available yet in India.
The FreeStyle Libre system is made up of 2 parts:
The Abbott FreeStyle Libre system monitors glucose levels throughout the day – This happens automatically, at regular intervals.
The readings are stored in the FreeStyle Libre Sensor, and when you scan the sensor with the FreeStyle Libre Reader (a hand-held monitor) get sent to the Reader. The readings can also be synced with your smartphone.
Almost all continuous or flash glucose monitors require some maintenance – The FreeStyle Libre is no exception.
When applying the FreeStyle Libre Sensor, you need to place it on a clean area on the back of the upper arm, that doesn’t have any scars, rashes or tattoos. The sensor needs to be removed after a few days – The maximum length of time you can keep the FreeStyle Libre Sensor on your skin is 14 days.
Some people find the adhesive on the FreeStyle Libre Sensor wears off over time. If you find it’s not lasting long enough you can apply sports tape over the sensor to help keep it in place, or patches made specifically for the FreeStyle Libre.
Applying the FreeStyle Libre Sensor is simple and typically painless. The removal process is also easy – A little pull and it comes off.
When reapplying a new sensor, you should place it on a new part of your skin – Avoid reapplying it in the exact same place.
Once the FreeStyle Libre Sensor is applied, you can sync it with your smartphone (or your guardian/partner’s smartphone).
The FreeStyle Libre has many features that have made it a popular choice of flash glucose monitor, especially for people in the South East Asia region.
The Abbott FreeStyle Libre system does have some drawbacks that may make it a little unsuitable for some people.
The FreeStyle Libre typically costs between ₹5,500 to ₹10,500, depending on offers and seasonal sales. This price makes it ‘affordable’ for the middle class.
Buying additional sensors or patches can add additional costs, with sensors costing around ₹5,000.
The FreeStyle Libre is available throughout India, and there are a few ways you can buy it:
It’s a good idea to get advice from your doctor before you buy a FreeStyle Libre, but you can easily buy it without a referral or prescription from your doctor.
The Guardian Connect Smart CGM is a continuous glucose monitoring device developed and manufactured by Medtronic, a global leader in healthcare technology. It was first launched in 2018, following 2 years of rigorous regulatory checks, and is designed to follow the latest advances in mobile technology.
Like with Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre, it’s mainly intended for type 1 diabetics, but some type 2, LADA and gestational diabetics also find it beneficial and like using it.
The Guardian Connect tracks real-time trends in your sugar levels and can send alerts to your mobile device if your blood glucose level is decreasing or increasing too quickly, or predicted to. It is the only CGM device available with customisable predictive alerts. Like the FreeStyle Libre, it’s also a device that continues to evolve and get upgraded, with Medtronic regularly releasing newer versions.
The Guardian Connect Smart CGM system is made up of 2 parts:
Guardian Connect consists of a sensor and a transmitter working together. The sensor is placed on your skin, either on your arms, abdomen, or buttocks. It’s in constant contact with your interstitial fluid (the fluid between the cells) and takes its glucose readings from these. Readings are taken every 5 minutes and sent to the transmitter, which is connected to the sensor.
The transmitter uses Bluetooth technology to send readings, alerts and other data to your mobile device.
The Guardian Connect can optionally also be connected to an insulin pump (Medtronic’s MiniMed), making it a popular choice for diabetics who want to create a ‘closed loop’ system – A setup where your CGM and insulin pump work together like an artificial pancreas, automatically monitoring and controlling your blood glucose levels.
Similar to the FreeStyle Libre, the Guardian Connect requires some maintenance.
When applying the Guardian Connect sensor, you also need to apply it to a clean area of skin. While the FreeStyle Libre needs to be placed on your forearm or lower belly, the Guardian Connect has been approved for more areas – You can place it on your arms, abdomen or buttocks.
The Guardian Connect sensor can be worn for 7 days. A fully charged transmitter will last at least 6 days.
To get accurate results, you need to calibrate your sensor at least twice a day, or when you receive an alert on your mobile device.
The Guardian Connect has several features that make it a popular choice of continuous glucose monitor, especially for diabetics in India.
The Guardian Connect does have some drawbacks that may make it a little unsuitable for some people.
Compared to Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre and some other CGM devices, the Guardian Connect CGM price is higher. The cost of the transmitter is around ₹50,000, and the transmitter will last about a year.
Additional sensors also come at an additional price, costing between ₹3,000 to ₹3,500. As Guardian Connect sensors only last 6 days, while other CGM sensors last 10 to 14 days, this also makes the Guardian Connect slightly more expensive.
This makes the Medtronic Guardian Connect price annually to be around ₹2,40,000.
This price makes it prohibitive for many diabetics in India.
The Guardian Connect is available throughout India, and there are a few ways you can buy it:
It’s a good idea to consult your doctor and get their advice before you get a continuous glucose monitor, but you don’t need a referral or prescription to get the Guardian Connect Smart CGM.