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Tiny Device Helps Diabetics Monitor Blood Sugar Continuously & Discretely

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new development for people with diabetes could help prevent some of the consequences of the disease.

It’s a tiny monitor that continuously reads a diabetic’s blood sugar.

For most diabetics, knowing your blood sugar and insulin levels means pricking your finger a dozen or more times a day, CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported. Even then, it’s tough to keep blood sugar under control.

How about something the size of a flash drive that talks to your smartphone and your doctor?

Katelyn Prominski is a classically trained professional ballerina. A few years ago she started developing some of the symptoms of type one diabetes.

“Going to the bathroom five times an hour. It interfered with my life. I was in a ballet company at the time, I had to leave ballet class in order to go to the bathroom,” she said. “In the middle of the night, I was starving, I was losing tons of  weight.”

A blood test revealed sky-high blood sugar. Prominski was diabetic.

She had to retire from ballet, but now she’s back dancing professionally with the national tour of “Dirty Dancing.” That’s really hard to do, because a two hour performance burns a lot of blood sugar.

Part of what’s let her do what she loves is a tiny device – a continuous glucose monitor, or CGM for short.

“That lets the patient look at their blood sugar in real time. And that’s the most amazing thing I’ve seen in my 20-something years of practice,” Dr. Stuart Weiss, of New York University Langone Medical Center, said.

Weiss, a diabetes specialist, said recent studies have shown that CGMs actually help type one diabetics keep tighter control of their blood sugar.

Prominski uses a Dexcom CGM that not only monitors her blood sugar, it transmits her numbers to her smartphone and tells her how her sugar is trending.

“It would be scary if it was going straight down, or even scarier if it was two arrows going straight down. That means I’m really falling,” she said.

Too low a blood sugar can be fatal. The Dexcom device alerts the diabetic of that.

“Those alerts and alarms can be communicated to their parents or their spouse, and someone can intervene and help them as well,” Dexcom Inc. CEO Kevin Sayer said. “Patients live a much fuller life.”

The Dexcom device is the only CGM approved by the FDA that allows diabetics to forgo the usual finger sticks. As small as the Dexcom device is, the company is working to make it as small as a penny, so that no one needs to know if you’re diabetic.

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