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Blood Glucose Monitoring

Checking blood glucose levels by using a blood glucose meter or blood glucose test strips that change color when touched by a blood sample in order to manage diabetes.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

About Blood Glucose Monitoring

There are two types of tests that tell you your blood sugar level:

Doctors use a special blood test, called an A1C test, to check how high your blood sugar level was during the past 3 months. Having an A1C level of 7 percent or below means that your blood sugar has been well controlled over the past 3 months.

When taking insulin, you need to use a different type of test called a blood sugar test—often done with a fingerstick—to help you adjust the amount of insulin you take during the day. This test measures the amount of sugar in your blood at any one time. This measurement is given in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

The normal blood sugar levels for people who do not have diabetes are:

  • Between 70 and 130 mg/dL before meals
  • Less than 180 mg/dL at 2 hours after meals...

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What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Sepsis: Recognition, Assessment and Early Management

Sepsis is a clinical syndrome caused by the body's immune and coagulation systems being switched on by an infection. Sepsis with shock is a life-threatening condition that is characterised by low blood pressure despite adequate fluid replacement, and organ dysfunction or failure. Sepsis is an important cause of death in people of all ages. Both a UK Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman enquiry (2013) and UK National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD, 2015) have recently highlighted sepsis as being a leading cause of avoidable death that kills more people than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined.

Pneumonia: Diagnosis and Management of Community- and Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia in Adults

The microbial causes of pneumonia vary according to its origin and the immune constitution of the patient. Pneumonia is classified into community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP) and pneumonia in the immunocompromised. The guideline development process is guided by its scope - published after stakeholder consultation. This guideline does not cover all aspects of pneumonia, but focuses on areas of uncertainty or variable practice and those considered of greatest clinical importance. Best practice guidance on the diagnosis and management of CAP and HAP is offered, based on systematic analysis of clinical and economic evidence with the aim of reducing mortality and morbidity from pneumonia and maximising resources.

Chronic Heart Failure: National Clinical Guideline for Diagnosis and Management in Primary and Secondary Care: Partial Update [Internet]

This guideline is a partial update of NICE Guideline No 5: Chronic Heart Failure - national clinical guideline for diagnosis and management in primary and secondary care (2003). The aim of the 2003 guideline was to offer best practice advice on the care of adult patients (aged 18 years or older) who have symptoms or a diagnosis of chronic heart failure. It defined the most effective combination of symptoms, signs and investigations required to establish a diagnosis of heart failure, and those which would influence therapy or provide important prognostic information. It also gave guidance on the treatment, monitoring and support of patients with heart failure.

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Summaries for consumers

Self‐monitoring of blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus who are not using insulin

Self‐monitoring of blood glucose has been found to be effective as a tool in the self‐management of patients' glucose levels in people with type 1 diabetes and people with type 2 diabetes using insulin therapy. Patients can use the glucose values to adjust their insulin doses. It is hypothesized that patients with type 2 diabetes who are not using insulin might use the glucose values to adjust their diet and 'lifestyle'. However, there is no consensus on the effect of self‐monitoring of blood glucose for type 2 diabetes patients not using insulin. In this systematic review update six new randomised controlled trials were added to the six trials that had been included in the original review. For the comparison of the effect of self‐monitoring versus no self‐monitoring in patients with a diabetes duration of one year or more 2324 patients with a six months follow‐up and 493 patients with a 12 months follow‐up were available. Pooled results of studies including patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for at least one year show that self‐monitoring of blood glucose has a minimal effect in improving glucose control at six months, which disappears after 12 months follow‐up. The clinical benefit resulting from this effect is limited.

Methods for monitoring blood glucose in pregnant women with diabetes to improve outcomes

If a mother already has diabetes when she becomes pregnant, she and her baby are at a higher risk of various problems in pregnancy, labour, birth and later. During pregnancy, the mother will have her blood glucose levels (sometimes referred to as blood sugar levels) monitored so appropriate steps can be taken to control her blood glucose. This Cochrane review looked for the best test for measuring blood glucose during pregnancy in order to control blood glucose levels and so reduce problems for babies and mothers. We collected and analysed all relevant studies to answer this question (search date: November 2016).

What is the best blood glucose target for pregnant women who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes before becoming pregnant?

Pregnant women with diabetes need to keep their blood glucose levels stable, using diet, exercise, insulin or other drugs, clinic visits and monitoring. This review looked at the best blood glucose target for pregnant women with diabetes.

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Terms to know

Blood Glucose
The main sugar found in the blood and the body's main source of energy. Also called blood sugar.
Glucagon
A hormone produced by the pancreas that increases the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Hyperglycemia
Higher than normal amount of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood. Hyperglycemia can be a sign of diabetes or other conditions. Also called high blood sugar.
Hypoglycemia
Also called low blood glucose, a condition that occurs when one's blood glucose is lower than normal, usually below 70 mg/dL. Signs include hunger, nervousness, shakiness, perspiration, dizziness or light-headedness, sleepiness, and confusion.
Insulin
A hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. The beta cells of the pancreas make insulin. When the body cannot make enough insulin, insulin is taken by injection or other means.
Lancet
A small, sharp, needle-like instrument that is used to puncture the skin.

More about Blood Glucose Monitoring

Photo of an adult

Also called: Blood glucose testing

See Also: Diabetes Mellitus

Other terms to know: See all 6
Blood Glucose, Glucagon, Hyperglycemia

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