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Health Team

Some diabetics may be able to skip the finger prick

Posted June 23

A couple of times a day, people with diabetes make their finger bleed. Is blood sugar measurement really necessary for all Type 2 diabetics?

April Reese is one of those with Type 2 diabetes – the kind that affects how the body processes blood glucose – and she is among the candidates for a new way to live with her disease.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, UNC Family Medicine researchers studied 450 adults with non-insulin treated Type 2 diabetes. They compared three groups over the course of a year.

  • One group of patients did not do any finger-prick blood sugar testing.
  • A second group did test.
  • A third group tested and got messages of encouragement or instruction based on their results.

Researchers looked at patients' hemoglobin A1C levels, a measure of longer-term blood sugar control.

"At the end of the year, what we found is there was no difference in their blood sugars between the three groups, so it didn't matter if they tested or didn't test," said Dr. Laura Young of UNC Family Medicine.

Young and Dr. Katrina Donahue say they also found no difference in patients' quality of life.

Skipping the tests could help patients avoid the high costs of equipment and testing strips and avoid the anxiety that often comes with regular testing.
The doctors warn: Don't make that decision on your own.

"The advice would be to have a conversation with your doctor," Young said.

Type 2 diabetics currently on insulin therapy must continue regular blood sugar level monitoring. Non-insulin treated Type 2 patients are often prescribed medications and are advised on improving their diet and physical activity.

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