Can You Guess Your Blood Glucose Levels

Blood glucose awareness training (BGAT) is a patient education program designed to teach people who use insulin to estimate their blood glucose levels more accurately. It is specifically designed to help them recognize episodes of hypoglycemia. BGAT is a comprehensive, seven-class course which helps people identify and increase sensitivity to the symptoms of hyper- and hypoglycemia. The course also includes information on insulin, food, and exercise relating to extreme blood glucose levels.

Previous studies have shown BGAT’s effectiveness in the short-term, but researchers at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center in Charlottesville have determined that BGAT is effective in the long term as well. The researchers conducted a study involving 41 people who had participated in previous BGAT studies, 13 of whom had been control subjects. The remaining 28 people were broken down into two groups of 14, one of which was given a BGAT “booster” consisting of a review session and a two-week diary (for writing guesses and actual blood glucose scores in) similar to the one used in the original BGAT. After the booster group had completed the booklet, all test subjects were given an HbA1c test and sent home with a hand-held computer to record blood sugar guesses and results, which was retrieved after the 4 week study concluded.

The accuracy of the study participants’ guesses varied significantly between the groups: the control group had an overall accuracy of 26%, the BGAT group was at 30%, and the BGAT + booster group had a 39% accuracy rate. The difference in rate of car accidents between the BGAT group as a whole and the control group was believed to be caused by the BGAT group’s greater awareness of hypoglycemic episodes.

The study’s findings, published in the January, 1994 issue of Diabetes Care, indicate that BGAT does have a sustained effect on blood glucose control, as measured by HbA1c levels, and results in fewer episodes of hypoglycemia unawareness.

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