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March 31,University of Sheffield Insulin pumps do not take away the need for vital education on diabetes self-management and were no more effective than injections in helping adults with type 1 diabetes control their blood sugar levels, reports new NIHR-funded research. Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition affecting aroundpeople in the UK.
It occurs when the immune system destroys the cells that make insulin — the hormone needed to control blood sugar levels. Many people with type 1 diabetes struggle to achieve blood sugar level targets and a significant proportion go on to develop serious complications, reducing the length and quality of their lives.
To minimise potentially life-threatening complications caused by high blood sugars, patients take multiple daily shots of insulin and as the body is no longer to produce the insulin itself, the dose must be adjusted to fit with regular food intake and exercise.
This has been shown to improve diabetes control, reduce risks of low blood sugars and improve quality of life.
The use of pumps is expensive, but can provide patients with a more flexible way of delivering their insulin. Until now, little research has been done to see how effective the pump is compared with injections.
During the research Professor Heller and his team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust allocated participants at eight centres across England and Scotland onto a week-long educational course to learn about flexible insulin therapy, and split them into two groups.
One group also received training on how to use a pump to deliver their insulin while the second group used multiple insulin injections for two years. Although, participants using the pumps were more satisfied with the treatment, the findings reveal that there were no significant benefits in quality of life between those using insulin pumps and those taking daily shots of insulin.
Pumps may be useful in patients who are highly engaged in their own management, but find that the limitations of insulin treatment prevent them achieving their glucose targets.
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