Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is a game changer for people with type I and type II diabetes. That’s how Bonita Wilson, RN, CDCES, Diabetes Educator at Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC), describes the impact of CGM technology on the lives of people with diabetes.
“CGM is the latest and greatest way to monitor blood sugar levels,” she says. “And, it’s done without finger sticks.”
This is good news for the one in 10 Americans who live with diabetes, some who may need up to seven finger sticks a day to monitor their glucose (blood sugar) levels. CGM gives people greater control of their blood sugars and their long-term health. Through YRMC’s Diabetes Education program, people with diabetes also receive the support they need to thrive with their CGM.
“With CGM, patients can see the results of their dietary choices as they’re experiencing them,” explains Wilson. “If you eat a high-carb food, your CGM registers how that’s affecting your glucose levels as it’s happening. It’s immediate and it’s meaningful.”
CGM’s smart technology also provides trending data that a healthcare provider can download and review for patterns. This creates a complete picture of how blood sugar levels change over time. It also helps people with diabetes – and their providers – understand how food, activity, stress and illness affect their blood sugar levels.
“Understanding the reason for a patient’s fluctuating glucose levels leads to targeted care plans,” Wilson says. ““This is important to diabetes management.”
Which CGM works for you?
In this episode of YRMC’s Healthy Conversations, Wilson demonstrates how to put on a CGM. She also shares model-specific information including the:
- Number of finger sticks required
- High-and-low glucose alerts
- Smartphone compatibility
- Frequency of sensor changes
- Unique attributes of each model (e.g., nighttime alerts)
“CGM doesn’t eliminate the patient’s role in decision making about their health,” Wilson explains. “It’s a tool that can validate their choices.”
How do CGM systems work?
CGMs include the following three components that work together to gather and share information about blood sugar levels.
- Glucose sensor – This is painlessly inserted under the skin of the upper arm or abdomen either by the individual or, if the model requires, a healthcare provider. How frequently your sensor needs to be changed depends on the CGM model. It can vary from approximately six days to six months.
- Transmitter – This small piece – which fits on the sensor – gathers information on the individual’s glucose levels and wirelessly sends the data to the receiver.
- Receiver – A smartphone app or a small monitor captures the information from the transmitter and immediately displays current glucose levels. Some CGMs also send glucose information directly to an insulin pump.
The data gathered from a CGM is shared with whomever the patient designates—their healthcare provider, spouse or a neighbor.
“There’s lots of fear about high and low blood sugar levels,” says Wilson. “This CGM feature keeps people close to you informed of your glucose levels so they can check in if there’s a dip or a spike. It’s a great safety feature.”
Lean into learning about CGM and more
YRMC’s Diabetes Education program is for anyone with diabetes, from the newly diagnosed to people who have lived with diabetes for decades. Recognized by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for Quality Self-Management Education, YRMC’s menu of learning opportunities include:
- A free, one-time pre-diabetes session – This hour-long session will be presented by Wilson six times in 2023—three in Prescott and three in Prescott Valley.
- Individual consults – During one-on-one meetings, Wilson advises people on all matters related to their diabetes, including CGM.
- Diabetes self-management – Wilson leads this five-week series which covers an important “M” topic each week—meals, motion, medications, monitoring and mindfulness.
“Participants learn from each other and they learn that they are not alone,” says Wilson of the Diabetes Self-Management series.
Wilson calls the series an underutilized Medicare benefit as only seven percent of people who are eligible for it actually take advantage.
Check out YRMC’s Diabetes Education program for more information or call (928) 771-5794 in Prescott or (928) 759-5920 in Prescott Valley.