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Ann Adv Automot Med. 2010;54:367-72.

Metabolic Demand of Driving Among Adults with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM).

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University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.


Recent research suggests that the frequency of driving mishaps is increased in people with Type 1 diabetes (T1DM) as compared to those with Type 2 diabetes or their non-diabetic spouses. This study involved a sample of T1DM drivers and was designed to investigate the metabolic and physiologic demands of driving compared to sitting passively. Participants (N=38) were divided into two groups: the -History group included those reporting no driving mishaps in the past two years, and the +History group included participants reporting at least two such mishaps in the past two years. Glucose utilization rates were determined in participants while: (a) they were driving a virtual reality driving simulator for 30 minutes, and (b) watching a 30-minute video. Blood glucose (BG) levels were maintained at similar levels during both procedures. Other biological variables including heart rate (HR) were monitored. Participants rated their hypoglycemia (low BG) symptoms before and after each of the two procedures. . Participants could self-treat if they perceived they were experiencing hypoglycemia. There were no differences between the two groups. However, glucose utilization rates were significantly higher during the driving scenario (3.83mg/kg/min + 1.7 vs. 3.37 mg/kg/min + 1.6, p=0.047). HR was significantly higher during the driving scenario. Drivers reported more autonomic symptoms during driving and 32% treated perceived hypoglycemia during driving. Driving a virtual reality simulator is associated with increased glucose utilization rates suggesting that driving per se has a metabolic cost and that BG should be measured prior to driving and periodically during long drives.

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