New technology aimed at improving management of diabetes is being trialled this week by a team of diabetic cyclists.
The athletes are testing a new, state of the art personal health monitoring system, developed by researchers from the Universities of Newcastle and Northumbria, which combines medical sensors, a mobile phone app, and cloud internet technology to provide instant and continuous blood glucose monitoring.
Around 100 cyclists are testing the system while taking part in a 2,100 km ride across Europe. Each participant is equipped with a small continuous blood glucose monitor, which is placed just under the skin to detect chemical changes and record real-time blood sugar measurements.
The sensor sends the data wirelessly to the wearer’s mobile phone where it is then downloaded to a cloud data repository and can be analysed in real time by the team at Newcastle and Northumbria universities.
“It is really about demonstrating how much things most of us carry in our everyday lives, like mobile phones, hold the potential to help living with diabetes,” explained Professor Mike Trenell, of Newcastle University, who is leading the trial.
“We can enable patients to make real-time context-based decisions to improve their diabetes control. If we can get people to walk 45 minutes extra every day we get an equivalent cost saving of £800 per year.”
As well as helping to manage the performance of long-distance cyclists, marathon runners, and other endurance athletes, the researchers say the new system could also benefit people with type 1 diabetes who often avoid exercising due to a fear of experiencing hypoglycaemia by providing real-time warnings of falling blood sugar levels.
Additionally, this type of continuous real-time monitoring could provide a relatively inexpensive option for diabetes patients to monitor their blood sugar and manage their health in the future, and may also be used as early warning health check by members of the general population, or those at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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