Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What Can You Do With Your Continuous Glucose Monitor Data?

The mathematician in me has wondered what I can do about type-1 diabetes since my son was diagnosed in 2007.

If you don't know, type-1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the body's immune system.  Scientists are still trying to determine the true causes of type-1, but it is not a communicable disease.  There is evidence that there is a genetic predisposition to type-1, but something in the environment is triggering the beta cell destruction.  The incidence of new cases of type-1 is increasing worldwide.  JDRF, an organization that I volunteer for, works to prevent, treat, and cure type-1 diabetes.

Treating type-1 involves the on-going monitoring of blood glucose, and the introduction of artificial insulin to "cover carbs" in the diet and "correct" high blood sugar without "going low".  Blood glucose levels can be measured several times a day by pricking the finger and using a glucose meter.  More recently, people with type-1 diabetes are starting to use continuous glucose monitors, or CGMs, which measure blood sugar automatically every five minutes.

Beyond the on-going monitoring of blood glucose and food carbohydrates, and trying to determine how exercise and illness affects my son's numbers, I have asked myself what else I can do with my mathematical training?  Since 2009, exploring connections between mathematics and type-1 diabetes has been part of my research program as a mathematics professor.  In 2009, I learned about mathematical models of type-1 diabetes, and using a large dataset of CGM data, I worked with two students to find a way to cluster diabetic patients based on the variability of their blood glucose -- how much their CGM numbers bounce around.  In 2013, there is a lot of interest in studying blood glucose variability.

More recently, I created a calculation called the "CGM Score" that anyone can use to analyze their CGM numbers.  Simply put, the larger the score, the more the numbers are bouncing around and are out of the target range of 70 to 140.

If you use a continuous glucose monitor and would like to calculate your CGM Score and learn more about it, here are two files for you:

Article about the CGM Score
Excel spreadsheet to calculate the CGM Score

I would appreciate any feedback you have (e-mail:

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