Value and Utility of Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose in Non-Insulin–Treated Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

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Thomas Blevins, MD

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Postgraduate Medicine:

Volume 125 No. 3


Clinical Focus

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DOI: 10.3810/pgm.2013.05.2668
Abstract: Self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) levels provides important information regarding glycemic control for patients with diabetes, and is recommended by European and American diabetes organizations as an essential adjunct to periodic glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) level monitoring. The benefits of SMBG in improving glycemic control in patients with type 1 diabetes and those with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) who are being treated with insulin are well recognized. In contrast, the potential role of SMBG in patients with T2DM not treated with insulin remains controversial, which may lead to underutilization of SMBG in this population. Structured SMBG, introduced as part of a treatment intervention, has been associated with modest but significant improvements in HbA1c levels in patients with T2DM who are not taking insulin as part of their management plan. Patient-obtained readings provide valuable real-time feedback on glucose responses to meals and exercise, and provide the patient with guidance on the day-to-day management of their diabetes. Studies have shown that when patients perform self-monitoring as part of their treatment interventions, support through appropriate educational initiatives is critical to ensure that patients understand the rationale for SMBG. Patients should be trained in correct testing technique and data recording for SMBG, as well as target blood glucose and goal HbA1c levels so that they will know when their SMBG readings are out of range. Technology has a potential role in facilitating SMBG-based interventions by improving patient–physician communication and optimizing glycemic control through the use of remote data uploading, data analysis tools, and, perhaps, even text messaging. This review outlines the benefits of SMBG in the management of patients with T2DM not treated with insulin, and highlights strategies for improving the effectiveness of SMBG-based treatment interventions in this population.

Keywords: glycated hemoglobin; patient algorithms; self-monitoring of blood glucose; type 2 diabetes mellitus; technology