|About 14 percent of Americans suffering from Type 2 diabetes might be testing their blood sugar levels several times daily without cause, reveals a new study.
More than half the people testing their blood sugar at home don’t need to do this, accounting for 14% of the total study population, researchers reported Monday in Journal of the American Medical Association.
Those with Type 2 diabetes who don’t need treatment for it or who have well-controlled symptoms don’t have to test their blood at home, say doctors. Medications can cause dangerously low blood sugar.
Researchers examined data on over 370,000 people with Type 2 diabetes and about 23% had at least three insurance claims for test strips that check blood sugar in their homes.
“Many Type 2 diabetes patients not using insulin or other medications at risk of rapid changes in blood sugar levels are testing far more often than they need to be,” said Dr. Kevin Platt, the lead study author. “This needless behavior causes unnecessary pokes, worry and costs. More is not always better when it comes to medical care.”
Many patients can keep their blood sugar levels in a comfortable range with oral medications and don’t need insulin. Those taking oral medication for diabetes don’t require regular testing because the pills don’t cause rapid shifts in blood sugar.
But Old Dominion professor emerita Sheri Colberg stressed some patients must take the home tests — if not more than once a day.
“Even if checking routinely may not change outcomes like overall blood glucose management, the benefit of having glucose management, the benefit of having glucose testing strips available is that individuals … are then able to check their blood glucose when their usual routines vary, during times of illness or whenever other events may negatively impact their blood glucose,” said Colberg.