Blood Glucose Analyzers

March 1, 2012 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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An estimated 220 million people worldwide—25.8 million in the United States—have diabetes mellitus, a disease in which the pancreas secretes an inadequate supply of insulin and/or the body no longer responds properly to insulin. In people without diabetes, when blood glucose concentration is high, insulin lowers glucose levels mainly by stimulating uptake by tissues through conversion of the extracellular form of glucose to the intracellular form. When insulin production is deficient or absent or cells stop responding appropriately to insulin, extracellular glucose concentrations in the blood rise unchecked to above-normal levels; this condition is called hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is potentially fatal and can lead to severe damage to the heart, kidneys, eyes, blood vessels, and nerves. Hypoglycemia, a condition in which the blood glucose level is very low, is also potentially fatal; untreated, it can lead to fainting, seizures, loss of consciousness, coma, and damage to the nervous system.

Blood glucose analyzers* measure blood glucose concentration using a reagent strip, cartridge, or cuvette and a drop of capillary blood from puncture of a finger or other body site. (Some units can also use venous and/or arterial blood.) Health professionals, other caregivers, and individuals with diabetes use these battery-powered analyzers to manage diabetes by testing their blood glucose levels at predetermined intervals and whenever their blood glucose levels are suspected of being too high or low.

_______________ * Although the devices discussed in this Risk Analysis are commonly referred to as blood glucose monitors, they do not continuously monitor blood glucose levels. Rather, they are analyzers that give intermittent glucose readings whenever the user supplies a blood sample. They are different from continuous glucose monitors, which are worn by the user and measure interstitial fluid to give a semicontinual glucose reading. For more information, see the discussion Continuous Glucose Monitors. _______________

Used at home, portable blood glucose analyzers help people with diabetes detect and treat daily fluctuations in blood glucose levels. The normal fasting glucose concentration is between 70 and 110 mg/dL in blood serum or plasma. A person with diabetes can adjust insulin dosage, food intake, and exercise in response to the analyzer’s readings to achieve treatment goals and maintain normal blood glucose levels. Frequent blood glucose monitoring to maintain normoglycemia (a normal blood glucose concentration) facilitates treatment designed to reduce...

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