Glucose Intolerance

Glucose meters have come a long way in the past 45 years. The first blood glucose meter, (commonly abbreviated as BGM), was a "primitive" device as compared with today's high-tech meters. Using the first glucose meter, "Destrotrix," involved dropping an entire drop of blood on a reactive paper, waiting one minute, rinsing with water, and comparing the color of the paper to a comparative color chart. With current technology, glucose readings have become less of a hassle and extremely convenient. With the large variety of meters on the market, choosing the meter that is right for you is important. The three important factors that you should consider in a glucose meter are accuracy, ease of use, and convenience.

How Glucose Meters Work

There are two methods used to determine the glucose level either optical or electrostatic. The optical method is done by measuring the reflective light (reflectance photometer - optical) to determine the blood glucose level. It works by taking a blood sample, applying it to a test strip, and then shining a measured amount of light on it. The amount of light that is reflected back is then measured; the amount of reflected light indicates how much glucose is present in the blood sample (higher amount of light reflected means higher amount of glucose). This technology is found in many older meters and accuracy isn't consistent. Most modern meters now incorporate electrostatic technology. This works by measuring the voltage (electrons) level using electrochemistry to determine the blood glucose level. This method is done by applying a blood sample to a test strip. Then an enzyme on the test strip called Glucose Oxidase removes one electron from the glucose which is converted into gluconolactone. The electron that is removed is read as a voltage by the meter. The number of electrons present is related to the glucose level in the blood (higher number of electrons, the higher the glucose level and the higher voltage reading on the meter).

A new type of technology based on digital signal process (DSP) has recently made its way into glucose meters. This new technology is called dynamic electrochemistry, which is an upgrade from the original electrochemistry. Static electrochemistry involves one signal that is measured by one measurement. Dynamic electrochemistry uses various sophisticated algorithms to compute many measurements based off a signal. Dynamic electrochemistry allows for more accuracy, consistency, and accounts for variations in temperature and elevation issues. Because static electrochemistry is based on only one measurement, factors such as dirty fingers, double-dosing, not enough blood, and chemical interference may have a serious impact on a meters' accuracy. With dynamic electrochemistry, the impact of these common factors is reduced significantly. This technology was developed by Agamatrix and is found exclusively in their WaveSense products.

Comparing Meters

Choosing the correct BGM for you is important in maintaining your health. A good glucose meter should be very accurate. Accuracy is important because it measures exactly how much glucose is actually present in your blood. Out of all the meters in the market, I have found that the top three meters in terms of accuracy are the WaveSense Keynote, the Abbott Freesstyle Flash, and Ascencia by Bayer Contour. In a comprehensive study in November 2006, YSI probes were used to find the exact level of glucose in blood samples. Using that value as an exact measurement, home glucose meters were put to the test. Comparing the major meters in the market, the WaveSense Keynote was 95.0%, the Abbott Freestyle Flash was 95.2%, and Ascencia by Bayer Countour was 84.0% of the time within an acceptable accuracy range. These are the top three meters in the market in terms of accuracy.