No one wants to be diagnosed with a condition like diabetes. It’s basically a life sentence. It’s not the worst-case scenario, but it certainly puts added pressure on people to exercise more frequently and eat right. Doing either of those things in combination and consistently enough that they make a difference can be a struggle for anyone who isn’t accustomed to the burden. No one wants to prick a finger for the rest of their days, either.
But treatment plans are changing. Might artificial intelligence be the next big driver of diabetes treatment? It works through wearable devices, which are becoming an increasingly popular alternative for diabetics.
Many media reports have suggested that the pace of AI advancement has once again slowed to a crawl, much like it did thirty years ago. But that’s nonsense. The biggest companies we know — like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and even Facebook — are still funneling an insane amount of resources into making the AI better.
A new system that would help diabetics detect low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) non-invasively is currently under development by a team of researchers who published the results of a new program in Scientific Reports.
It’s not perfect yet. Scientists working out of the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom have managed to show an 82 percent success rate. That means that their computer can diagnose hypoglycemia about four out of five times.
Lead author Leandro Pecchia said, “Our innovation consisted in using [AI] for automatic detecting [of] hypoglycemia via few ECG beats. This is relevant because ECG can be detected in any circumstance, including sleeping.”
Scientists watched healthy participants around the clock for two weeks to see how often they could accurately record glucose readings through their newly created AI program. They did this not by testing blood, but by measuring heart rhythm.
Diabetes is a growing public health concern, prompting state governments to sign new measures into law that recognize the epidemic. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker recently signed a new law to place price caps on diabetic medications. Senator Andy Manar, who sponsored the new bill, said it was the “biggest step that we can take under Illinois law.”
But of course more needs to be done, especially when diagnosing those who may be suffering from diabetes. Those who are not covered by health insurance are far less likely to visit the doctor and may not realize they have the condition.
Pritzker said, “Diabetes affects people from all walks of life. It doesn’t discriminate between those who can afford medication at unconscionable cost and those who cannot.”
Diabetes can up-end someone’s life. You become accustomed to a specific way of living. You eat what you want. You don’t get enough exercise, but you’re happy. Or maybe you do eat healthy and exercise a lot — and you’re happier for it. Either way, type 1 diabetes can strike without warning. And that means life changes are in order whether you had adopted healthy living before diagnosis or not.
It turns out an artificial pancreas might one day soon help you out.
A new clinical trial showed that an artificial pancreas performed better than current treatments for Type 1 diabetes. Not only did the new organs help patients maintain control over their blood sugar during the day, but the artificial pancreas also made getting through the night a lot easier.
It was only a six-month trial for 168 patients with Type 1 diabetes, aged 14 and above, but the controlled system showed promising results so far.
Boris Kovatchev, the director of the Center for Diabetes Technology at the University of Virginia, said, “This artificial pancreas system has several unique features that improve glucose control beyond what is achievable using traditional methods…In particular, there is a special safety module dedicated to prevention of hypoglycemia, and there is gradually intensified control overnight to achieve near-normal blood sugar levels every morning.”
The study was recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Data related to the study has been forwarded to the FDA for assessment.
Artificial organs are more common nowadays because of advances in bioprinting (3D-printing using synthetic or biological material). In the future, the need for organ donation will experience a marked decline as we can cheaply and quickly replace organs with artificial ones. More importantly, these artificial organs will be tailored to an individual’s personal needs, potentially outperforming the original.
The hope is that eventually artificial organs, combined with a healthy lifestyle, will allow patients to easily manage diseases — or eliminate them altogether.
Daniela Bruttomesso of the University of Padua in Italy wrote: “These results are impressive and clinically relevant, since it has been shown that for each 10% reduction in the time spent in the glucose target range, the risk of development or progression of retinopathy increases by 64% and the risk of development of microalbuminuria by 40%.”
To put it into perspective, the artificial pancreas resulted in increased average healthy glucose levels in study participants by 2.6 hours a day. Retinopathy refers to potential retinal damage in a patient’s eyes. Microalbuminuria refers to the presence of albumin in the urine. An artificial pancreas might help reduce the chances of these complications.
The A1C is a common blood test that measures the amount of glucose that is attached to the hemoglobin in our red blood cells. It has a variety of other names, including glycated hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin, hemoglobin A1C and HbA1 and is used in the diagnosis and monitoring of diabetes. Unlike the traditional blood glucose test, the A1C does not require fasting, and blood can be drawn at any time of day. It is hoped that this will result in more people getting tested and decreasing the number of people with undiagnosed diabetes, which is currently estimated to be more than 7 million adults in the U.S. (more…)
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