How do blood glucose monitors work?

Updated: Jan 22, 2020
  • Author: Benjamin Daniel Liess, MD; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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Blood glucose meters measure blood glucose levels electronically. Such measurement utilizes only a small drop of blood from the fingertip placed on a disposable test strip. The digital meter obtains information from the blood on the strip, and within seconds, the glucose level is displayed on the screen. Patient discomfort and inconvenience are minimal, and compliance with testing regimens is therefore high. There is a recurring cost to using blood glucose meters and disposable strips, but it is outweighed by the costs related to complications of diabetes.

Alternate-site testing uses the same meter and strip but acquires blood from the palm or the forearm. Thus, it causes virtually no pain and allows patients to rest sore fingertips. The disadvantage of alternate-site testing is that decreased blood flow may be encountered and may affect testing accuracy.

Multitest systems are available that utilize a cartridge or a disk with multiple test strips. These systems may be more convenient for patients.

Many meters allow patients to download results to a computer so that they can be shared with their health care provider; this has the potential to improve diabetes management.

iBGStar (Sanofi) is the first blood glucose meter to connect directly to iPhone and iPod Touch. It uses the iBGStar Diabetes Manager application for recording, tracking, managing, and sharing blood glucose data. Recent research has shown good interassay and high intra-assay precision using the device. [6]

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