SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwire -11/08/11)- Dexcom (NASDAQ: DXCM - News), the leader in continuous glucose sensing, is launching a national public awareness campaign to ensure people with diabetes and their loved ones are aware of the serious and often life-threatening consequences of low blood sugar -- one of the most-dangerous side effect of diabetes -- and the newest solution to manage it.
"Every day, people are dying unnecessarily, simply because they could not predict or detect a hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) event," said Steve Edelman, M.D., founder and director of Taking Control of Your Diabetes, a not-for-profit educational organization. "That's a tragic outcome, especially because there is modern technology available right now that can prevent it."
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is considered the most significant breakthrough in diabetes management in the past 40 years. Traditionally, the standard-of-care for diabetes is to measure glucose (blood sugar) levels with regular finger sticks, a method limited by the fact that, like a snapshot, it only provides data for the specific moment in which it is done; it doesn't show whether glucose levels are going up or down -- or how fast.
By contrast, CGM provides more of an in-motion picture that shows not only total glucose, but also the speed and direction in which it is moving, and immediately alerts the user to dangerous changes so they can take action. A sensor, about the width of two human hairs, is inserted under the skin of the abdomen and attached to a mini transmitter, which sends glucose data to a small monitor. The monitor is equipped with special alerts and alarms that sound when glucose is headed in the wrong direction.
"People with Type I diabetes who solely depend on finger sticks or home glucose monitoring do not know what direction their blood sugar is going and could be at risk for a serious hypoglycemic event," said Dr. Edelman. "For many individuals with diabetes who take insulin, glucose levels can crash quickly and unpredictably, putting them at risk of passing out or having a seizure while driving or caring for a child, for example. Low blood sugar can and does lead to death, especially in people who do not feel the symptoms of low glucose."
"Life (and Death) Happens Between Finger Sticks"
The campaign, titled "Life (and Death) Happens Between Finger Sticks" is timed to coincide with National Diabetes Month in November. A key message is the importance of real-time CGM that can protect people with diabetes while driving, sleeping or at other critical times.
People with diabetes are not always aware that their glucose levels are dropping. Studies show that one in four people with Type I diabetes experience hypoglycemic unawareness,(1) a complication of diabetes in which the patient is unaware of a deep drop in blood sugar because it fails to trigger the characteristic symptoms. Drops in blood sugar cause a progressive loss of mental function and cognitive motor skills, which can make operating a motor vehicle dangerous. Type I diabetic drivers have been found to have more than twice as many collisions as their non-diabetic spouses.(2)
Abnormally low blood sugar also can affect people with Type I diabetes at rest. The 'dead-in-bed' syndrome is a tragic outcome of a failure to adequately monitor glucose levels during sleep. It accounts for six percent of mortality in diabetic patients younger than 40 years old.(3)
"Far too often, life and death is what happens between finger sticks," said Terry Gregg, CEO of Dexcom. "Continuous glucose monitoring gives them the information to know where their blood sugar is headed and how fast, so that they can take action if necessary. There are too many instances when a blood sugar drop resulted in death because the person was completely unaware and got behind the wheel of a car, or went to bed for the night."
Without continuous information, diabetes management can be difficult. It also can be costly. The Centers for Disease Control reported in 2007 that the annual costs for poor diabetes control totaled $174 billion; greater than the cost for treating all cancers and AIDS, combined. On average, people with diabetes visit the emergency room three times a year.(4)
National medical expert and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz has stated, "If we don't fix the problem of diabetes in this country, we will bankrupt our future ability to pay for healthcare." By providing up-to-the-minute information, CGM can play a role in keeping people with diabetes from developing life-threatening complications that need immediate, and costly, medical attention.
The "Life and Death" campaign will include television, radio and print promotion, as well as a nationwide speaking tour, to help raise awareness of the lifesaving potential of CGM.
CGM Puts Patients in Control
Dexcom's CGM technology shows people with diabetes where their glucose is, where it is going and how fast it's getting there -- something finger sticks could never show. It provides a new glucose reading every five minutes for up to seven days of uninterrupted wear-time. This helps people stay within their target range, and alerts the patient if his or her blood sugar is too high or low, both of which can be life-threatening. Dexcom is the only sensor that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved for up to seven days of wear.
Prescribed by a physician and covered by most insurance plans, the Dexcom CGM consists of just three parts: a sensor, transmitter and monitor. The sensor, about the width of two human hairs, is applied painlessly to the abdomen with a tiny attached transmitter, which sends data wirelessly to a monitor. About the size of a small cell phone, the monitor fits easily in a purse or pocket. The system provides the control and confidence that people with diabetes need to effectively manage their blood sugar and stay in control.
Based in San Diego, Calif., Dexcom is the leader in continuous glucose monitoring. The Dexcom SEVEN® PLUS CGM is the only sensor FDA-approved for up to seven days of wear, and is considered the new standard in continuous glucose monitoring. For more information on the Dexcom CGM, visit www.dexcom.com.
(1) Diabetes and Driving, Diabetes Care, 2006
(3) Confirmation of Hypoglycemia in the 'Dead-in-Bed' Syndrome, as Captured by a Retrospective Continuous Glucose Monitoring System, Endocrine Practice, 2010