REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA. The GlucoWatch is a device for measuring blood sugar level automatically without the need for drawing blood. It is non-invasive, is worn on the wrist like a watch, and provides readings every 20 minutes. With the trend towards more aggressive treatment of diabetes the GlucoWatch fills the need for the more frequent glucose measurements required to support this approach. Aggressive treatment means more insulin injections, dietary adjustments or taking of oral diabetes drugs throughout the day in order to keep glucose on an even keel. Unfortunately, this approach can create a "yo-yo" effect whereby periods of high glucose levels alternate with low (hypoglycemic) levels.
Researchers at Cygnus Inc., the manufacturer of the GlucoWatch, and the
University of California Medical School now report that the GlucoWatch can be
used effectively to warn of hypoglycemia. Their study involved over 3,000-
paired GlucoWatch and blood glucose readings. The researchers found that the
GlucoWatch would "catch" 24 per cent of all hypoglycemic events (blood glucose
at or below 3.9 mmol/L [70 mg/dL]) with an accuracy of 99 per cent. In other
words, the sensitivity was 24 per cent and the specificity 99 per cent. Setting
the alarm to 5.6 mmol/L (100 mg/dL), on the other hand, produced a sensitivity
of 75 per cent and a specificity of 10 per cent. Although these results are
still not optimal they are significantly better than what could be obtained by
standard blood sample testing even four times per day. NOTE: This study was
partially funded by Cygnus Inc., the manufacturer of the GlucoWatch.