A Next-Generation Insulin Pump
Genesis diabetes patient experiences better results and peace of mind
Jane Young, a Type 1 diabetes patient for the past 44 years, shows off her results on the Medtronic MiniMed 670G insulin pump system with Danita Harrison (right), ARNP, of Genesis Health Group, Endocrinology. Young is one of the first two patients in Iowa to have this new FDA-approved technology that constantly self-adjusts to keep blood sugar levels in range
For the past 44 years, Jane Young has felt like managing her Type 1 diabetes has been a full-time job. Now, a new FDA-approved insulin pump system is helping to take a lot of her workload away.
“You never get a day off from diabetes,” Young of Davenport explained. “It’s a constant thought process… constant guilt and worry that your blood sugar results aren’t as good as they should be… Now, I feel like I have a partner to do a lot of the work for me.”
That “partner” is being called a significant breakthrough in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes, a disease affecting 1.25 million Americans. The Medtronic MiniMed 670G is the first and only insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring sensor system that constantly self-adjusts to keep blood sugar levels in range. Young is one of the first two patients in Iowa to have it.
The system, available in late spring for patients 14 and older with Type 1 diabetes, is the world’s first hybrid closed-loop system. That means the 670G automatically controls and administers the basal insulin needed to keep Young alive, without her intervention. It still requires her to add different insulin, a bolus dose, whenever she eats or her blood sugars are too high.
“It takes some of the pressure off so I can focus on living my life. I don’t have to think about having diabetes all the time,” said Young, a patient of Genesis Health Group, Endocrinology. She is a former diabetes educator at Genesis and now is a representative for Medtronic.
The new 670G system continuously monitors Young’s blood sugar level and averages it every 5 minutes. That’s 288 readings per day. If her blood sugar starts to rise, the system can adjust by giving her a little more insulin. Or conversely, if her blood sugar is lowering, it can give less.
The Medtronic MiniMed 670G insulin pump system
automatically controls and administers the
basal insulin needed to keep Young alive,
without her intervention.
Meanwhile, the technology mimics some of the functions of a healthy pancreas to protect against dangerously low blood sugar. That’s particularly reassuring for the 1 out of 2 people with insulin- dependent diabetes who will experience hypoglycemia at least once per night. In fact, 10 percent of all severe hypoglycemia requires medical assistance.
“Hopefully, this will eliminate or decrease that severely low blood sugar,” said Danita Harrison, ARNP, of Genesis Health Group, Endocrinology. “That’s what concerns my patients and their families the most. They talk about that one really low blood sugar when they passed out…or were driving… or had a seizure…or had to rescue a spouse and call 911. From a family perspective, there’s nothing more frightening than to have your loved one passed out, possibly having a seizure, and the only thing you can do is to wait for the ambulance to arrive.”
She added, “When the sensors first came out, the powerful statement I heard from a spouse was: ‘Now, I can go on my business trip without worrying all the time.’ That’s tremendous.”
After just several days on the MiniMed 670G system, Jane Young was thrilled to receive a call from Harrison with good news about her results.
“There was far less fluctuation,” said Harrison, who has been Young’s provider for years. “From a health standpoint, this is helping to prevent the erratic blood sugars that we know lead to more serious health complications in the future.”
Those health complications can range from heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and neuropathy.
Harrison is also excited about the emotional benefits for her patients. “It will give them more freedom…peace of mind…the feeling that they can stop thinking about their diabetes for a minute. They will feel safer.”
Young adds, “It’s a common frustration for people with diabetes to do everything right and still have their numbers fluctuate or to be told by family, friends or providers that they aren’t working hard enough if the numbers aren’t perfect. This technology gives better blood sugar control and takes away some of that frustration.”
Young, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 19, has experienced the advances of diabetes technology over four decades. That progression has included urine in a test tube as the only way to check her blood sugar; a glucose meter the size of a tissue box that had to be plugged in; her first insulin pump 23 years ago; and, the first sensor-augmented pump in 2006 that enabled her to see what her blood sugar was at any given time and alerted her when it was too low.
Since then, the automation has improved with each new insulin pump.
“In the past decade, the advancements in diabetes technology have been extremely remarkable,” Young said. “My new pump is not an artificial pancreas, but technology is headed closer in that direction.”
To sum it up, she’s one step closer to living her life without worrying about how much insulin she needs to take.
“Diabetes is a really burdensome disease,” Young concluded. “This new insulin pump gives me better blood sugar control and requires less work from me. The future for people with diabetes will only get better.”