Insulin pump and glucose monitoring improve blood-sugar control for diabetes patients

Research Activities, August 2012, No. 384

Insulin pumps combined with real-time continuous glucose monitoring (sensor-augmented insulin pumps) are superior to multiple daily insulin injections and self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) with fingersticks to lower high blood sugar in patients with type 1 diabetes.

That's the conclusion of a new research review from the Effective Health Care Program of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Quality of life was improved with continuous insulin infusion for individuals with type 1 diabetes. Insulin pumps are superior to SMBG in regulating blood sugar when patients wear the sensor at least 60 percent of the time, as indicated by lower levels of blood sugar.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects nearly 8 percent of Americans. Of the people who have diabetes, 90 to 95 percent have type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is characterized by autoimmune destruction of pancreatic islet cells that results in an inability to produce insulin and a need for daily insulin administration to sustain life. Type 2 diabetes is the result of a combination of insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion by the beta cells of the pancreas. Typically, insulin resistance predominates early, and insulin secretion decreases over time.

Diabetes is associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease, chronic kidney disease, and retinal damage. iabetes can be treated by controlling or monitoring glucose levels in the blood and reducing high blood sugar, which can be managed by insulin therapies, oral medications, and/or through lifestyle and dietary changes.

The research review, Methods of Insulin Delivery and Glucose Monitoring: Comparative Effectiveness, summarizes evidence on the effectiveness of intensive insulin therapies in individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The review suggests additional research is needed to investigate the effectiveness of these treatments for children with type 1 diabetes, elderly patients, pregnant woman with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and racially diverse patient populations with type 2 diabetes. To access this review and other materials that explore the effectiveness and risks of treatment options for various conditions, visit AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program Web site at

Current as of August 2012
Internet Citation: Insulin pump and glucose monitoring improve blood-sugar control for diabetes patients: Research Activities, August 2012, No. 384. August 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.