HEADLINES Published March17, 2015 By Bernadette Strong

Can Technology Like the Apple Watch Free Diabetics from Finger Sticks?

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Apple Watches on display. One of the first apps for the watch will help diabetics monitor their blood sugar.
(Photo : Stephen Lam)

The Apple Watch, a wearable computer/phone for your wrist, will hit the market in late April and one of the first apps available will be one that allows you to check your blood sugar. You don't need to always stick your finger to get a drop of blood, you can wear the watch and it will tell you with a continuous glucose monitoring app.

The blood glucose monitoring app will collect information on your blood glucose levels through a tiny sensor that is inserted under the skin on your abdomen. It will measure blood sugar every 5 minutes. The sensor is inserted with a needle and it sends the readings to a receiver which then sends it to an iPhone app and the Apple Watch so that it can be displayed.

But the technology won't completely eliminate the need for the finger stick. People who use the app, sensor, and monitoring system will still need to check their blood sugar with a drop of blood when they calibrate the system.

Regularly monitoring blood sugar levels is vital for diabetics who use insulin. Getting the right insulin dosage can be tricky because the need for insulin, the hormone that allows the body to get energy from food, varies during the day. Currently, most diabetics test their blood glucose levels several times a day by pricking their finger and using a handheld monitor that reads the glucose levels in the drop of blood. Many diabetes dread the finger sticks.

Having an almost continuous way of monitoring blood glucose levels would allow diabetics to fine tune their insulin doses. Having a way to do this without having to stick your finger several times a day makes it an even better idea. The technology can also be used to send the glucose readings to other people, such as a doctor or from a child to a parent's phone.

The sensor and receiver for use with the Apple Watch, made by Dexcom, are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

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