By: David Mendosa
Medtronic MiniMed has linked an insulin pump with a continuous glucose monitor. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April, the pump part of the combination is already available. The company expects the monitor component to be available by the end of August.
But one lucky young man has used both the pump and the continuous monitor since last summer.
Good to be a Canadian Diabetic
Chris Jarvis lucked out because he lives in Canada, where his doctor had the device released to him in early September 2005. Chris has had type 1 diabetes since 1994, when he was 14. He’s had more experience than almost anyone in using the new combination pump and monitor to help him avoid highs and lows.
“The big deal for me is not having the fluctuations while I am training,” Chris says. He is training with the Canadian National Rowing team, which intends to participate in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He competed in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
“I used to fluctuate quickly up to 500 and 600 mg/dl without realizing what was happening,” he says. “And anything below 100 would put me in a big panic. I got so frustrated with these highs and lows that I got turned off on testing, because I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Now, with all the information the monitor gives me, I know how to make improvements and can relax.”
The combined pump and monitor that Chris uses is called the MiniMed Paradigm Real-Time Insulin Pump and Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. It has a MiniMed Paradigm 522 or 722 insulin pump with a built-in calculator combined with a Real-Time Continuous Glucose Monitoring System, similar to Medtronic MiniMed’s Guardian RT Continuous Monitoring System, which has been available in limited release since last September.
The system’s alarms warn of lows and highs. Chris sets his low alarm at 80 and his high alarm at 180.
Trend arrows point up or down to show the direction and rate of changes in glucose. Trend graphs show the effects of meals, exercise, insulin and medication on blood glucose control.
“My continuous monitor had an advantage over the Guardian RT, because it has graphs, which give me an easy visual picture of what is going on in the last three hours,” Chris says. “The 24-hour graph also tells me when my highs are happening, and I can see what went on when I’m asleep.”
Chris says that in the first few months after getting this combination, he had to figure out how to use it. “But since then, I have learned so much about my diabetes and how to react to different situations. It’s all about problem-solving in real time.”