Blood glucose monitoring is used by people with diabetes to regularly measure blood glucose levels and help keep them in a target range. Regular monitoring is particularly important for diabetics who are taking insulin and those who have a hard time controlling their blood glucose levels. Some health professionals even recommend monitoring for people with type 2 diabetes who do not take insulin.

But a study published online on June 25, 2007 in the British Medical Journal questions the effectiveness of this recommendation. The researchers found that blood glucose monitoring did not appear to improve care for people with non-insulin treated type 2 diabetes.

About the Study

The study included 453 adults who had type 2 diabetes that was being treated with diet and/or oral medications alone (no insulin). The participants were assigned to one of three treatment groups: the first received no blood glucose monitoring , the second used blood glucose monitoring and were advised to call their doctor for interpretation of the results, and the third used blood glucose monitoring and were trained to interpret the results so as to manage their own glucose levels. Blood glucose monitoring consisted of using a blood glucose meter to measure glucose levels three times per day, two days each week.

The researchers determined how blood glucose monitoring affected the participants' hemoglobin A1c (HbA1C) levels 12 months after the study began. HbA1C is a blood test that estimates how well blood glucose has been controlled over the last 2-3 months.

After adjusting for the participants' initial HbA1C levels, the researchers found no significant difference between the groups' HbA1C levels at 12 months.

How Does This Affect You?

This study suggests that blood glucose monitoring—with or without training on how to interpret the results—may not be beneficial in people with type 2 diabetes who do not take insulin. Blood glucose monitoring is costly, somewhat painful, and can be inconvenient. This, along with evidence that monitoring may not be effective in controlling blood glucose levels in some diabetics, indicates that recommendations to use blood glucose monitoring in these patients need to be revisited.

If you have well-controlled type 2 diabetes and are not taking insulin, it may not be necessary to monitor your blood glucose levels at home. If you are currently using a blood glucose meter, discuss the findings of this study with your doctor to find out if you should continue monitoring your levels. Keep in mind that for people with type 1 diabetes and for those with type 2 diabetes who take insulin, blood glucose monitoring is an important and necessary part of managing your condition.