Flash Glucose monitoring with FreeStyle Libre Pro

Freestyle Libre Pro is an FGM (Flash Glucose Monitoring) device manufactured by Abbott. FGM helps to track blood sugar levels throughout the day and night revealing trends that help to take decisions regarding insulin and diet intake for diabetics. It doesn’t require calibration and is much cheaper than some CGMs (Continuous Glucose Monitors) in the market.

Freestyle Libre Pro by Abbott is one such device that takes blood glucose readings every 15 minutes which means you are being tested 96 times in a day without pricking your fingers. This is impossible to be done by regular glucose monitors. Libre Pro takes 1344 readings in total and serves as a comprehensive glucose profile when I meet my doctor.

fslp-prduct-family-aug-09

Types:

The Freestyle Libre has two versions, patient and pro(doctor) version. In India only the pro version is available and needs to be procured through the doctor only. The pro version is easy to use and shows a line graph of blood sugar levels. The patient version has more features like showing the current glucose reading and the trend arrow which indicates whether the glucose level is heading up/down or is stable. I wish the patient version could be made available in India soon.

This article is about the Pro version which is the only version available in India as of now.

Contents:

The reader box consists of a scanner / reader, a charger plus USB cable and information booklets.

The sensor box consists of the sensor applicator and an alcohol swab to disinfect the application site. It carries visual instructions to apply the sensor.

Reader:

The reader displays a line graph of blood sugar levels throughout the 14 day period. Upon scanning, the graph of the present day is shown till the current time of scanning. User can go back to graphs of previous days by pressing the back button. The light blue colour band shows the lower and upper limits of safe/recommended blood glucose range. Whenever the sugar levels drop below the lower limit, the colour of the graph changes to red, indicating unsafe levels.

 

The touch on the screen is probably resistive to cut down the cost. It takes some pressure to select the required option. Resistive touch might work here as there are only 2 to 3 buttons on the screen, but inability to see the graph at once sometimes frustrates me. I have to repeatedly press the option at least 5 times for it to work. There’s only one physical button on the reader to turn it on/off.

 

Sensors:

Sensor is approximately the size of a coin with less than 5 mm thickness. It consists of a very thin filament that is inserted under the skin. It works exactly for 14 days and stays in place with a strong adhesive tape around it. It doesn’t need any charging or maintenance and is entirely water proof.

Applying the sensor:

Applying the sensor is a 1 minute procedure, and can be done by the user herself. The box comes with a one-time use kit to punch the sensor in the skin and can be thrown away once the sensor has been applied. The procedure to apply can be easily followed by the instructions that come along with the device. It is recommended to be placed at the back of upper arm. For my first use, I did not take any assistance for application and applied it on my own. Trust me, it is that easy. I advise putting the sensor after you have bathed so that the area is totally clean. I disinfect it properly because it needs to stay put for a period of 2 weeks.

Removing the sensor:

Sensor just needs to be pulled off the skin to be removed. I apply sensors alternately on both arms so that the area heals by the time I use the sensor on the other arm.

Usage:

Whenever you press the ‘Get sensor Data’ on the device, reader informs you to hold it near the Sensor for 5 seconds. It beeps/vibrates when reading data is complete. Click on ‘View’ to see the blood sugar graphs. More the data, more is the time taken to read the data (more waiting ;))

Results:

Reports can be created through the Freestyle Libre Pro software that is available for both Mac and Windows. I am adding images from my reports earlier this month for a better understanding.

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Software interface when the reader is connected

Battery:

Reader’s Battery easily lasts 2 to 3 weeks on full charge. Reader comes with a charger and USB cable and I only use that to charge the device (no smartphone chargers). 

Price:

The reader has a one-time cost of Rs. 5000 and the sensor costs Rs. 2000 (MRP). Since the sensor lasts 2 weeks, cost comes to Rs. 4000 per month.

Pros:

I take my reports with me when I visit my endocrinologist. It helps her decide the changes that need to be made to my insulin dosage so that my bolus and basal rates are more efficient. She also alters my diet based on  the reports to gain better control on my sugar levels.

It also helps reduce the time I spend being in hypoglycaemia as I always know if my sugar levels are reducing drastically. Although, there are variations of upto 10% from the glucose meter as I have observed, it is manageable. I would not recommend taking insulin correction dosage based on the graph and would suggest checking your blood sugar if you really feel too hyperglycaemic.

Diabetics are advised to keep HbA1c (glycated haemoglobin) below 7 to avoid long term complications. This device really helps to keep track of my HbA1c and keep it within control.

Cons:

It has happened once that while applying the sensor, the filament was unknowingly punctured into the vein on the arm and left me bleeding for quite some time. The sensor couldn’t be used any more. Another time the sensor showed variation in blood sugar levels to about 30 – 35 % which made the sensor entirely useless and I had to change to a new one. The vendor said that the variation may be because of high room temperatures.

Hope this helps you get to know Freestyle Libre Pro in a much better way! Connect with me at reetika@funsulin.com if you have any other questions about it.

Funsulin 🙂

 


This article is not a substitute for medical advice.

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