There is no doubt that 2022 is a big year for Dexcom and a big year for anyone who is using (or wants to use) continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). The launch of the Dexcom G7 signals another leap forward for CGM technology, and it is causing quite the buzz. So what is it about the Dexcom G7 that sets it apart from its predecessors? What does it mean for the average CGM consumer? And are there any new applications for this technology?
Who are Dexcom?
Dexcom have been around for a long time. The company was founded in 1999 with a solid foundation in decades-long research demonstrating the possibility of long-lasting implantable glucose monitors that the body wouldn’t reject. Since going public in 2002, Dexcom have continually poured money into the development of their CGM systems, with new iterations and innovations regularly being released.
What is continuous glucose monitoring (CGM)?
Not everyone who has diabetes use CGM systems to track their blood glucose. You might be more familiar with fingerstick testing, which uses a small amount of blood taken from the finger and then inserted into a monitoring device. However, continuous glucose monitoring differs from finger stick testing in a few different ways.
It consists of a tiny sensor that is inserted underneath the skin. This sensor doesn’t measure the glucose in the blood directly. Instead, it measures the interstitial glucose levels. This is the amount of glucose in the fluid surrounding the body’s cells. This data is then relayed to a monitoring device (this can be a smartphone or a standalone device), and the results can help the person make decisions about their insulin.
CGM systems can sometimes be connected directly with an insulin pump for delivering insulin. It can also be possible to monitor long-term glucose trends and relate these to lifestyle choices. The results can often also be shared directly with a healthcare provider.
Does continuous glucose monitoring work?
There has been a wide range of scientific studies looking at the efficacy of continuous glucose monitoring as a treatment for diabetes. The research suggests that it is an effective way for patients to monitor their glucose levels at home. One study, for example, found that in people with poorly-controlled type-2 diabetes, continuous glucose monitoring resulted in significantly lower HbA1c levels after eight months.
Despite this, the take-up of CGM systems amongst people with diabetes is relatively low, and a lot of this reluctance is down to limitations of the current technology, such as the size of the sensor.
What is the Dexcom G7? How is it different from the Dexcom G6?
The Dexcom G7 is the latest next-generation CGM system from Dexcom, due to be released shortly. It was launched at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, and Dexcom are excited about the new technologies involved in the system. And it differs in a variety of ways from the previous model, the Dexcom G6. Some of these differences are likely to attract more people with diabetes to try CGM. However, there is also the possibility of reaching people who want to monitor their glucose levels for other reasons.
As with all of Dexcom’s previous products, this product is likely to receive FDA approval. A recent clinical trial for the product, using 300 participants with a total of 39,000 individual glucose readings, found that they came within 20% of finger stick results 93% of the time. And the mean average difference between the Dexcom G7 and finger stick testing is 8.2% for adults and 8.1% for children. This is important because finger stick glucose results are the accuracy benchmark against which all other methods of monitoring glucose are compared. These results are well within FDA guidelines for a product that can monitor glucose for health reasons and replace finger stick readings, so approval will likely be granted for the Dexcom G7. In addition, previous Dexcom products have been available through Medicare, and there is an excellent chance that the Dexcom G7 will be as well.
The Dexcom G7 is an improvement from the previous Dexcom G6 in various ways. Firstly, it is 60% smaller (somewhere in size between a nickel and a quarter), and Dexcom are confident that it will be unnoticeable for the majority of users. This is an important development because issues such as body confidence and ease of use are key for people in wanting to start using CGM devices and to continue using them. It also has a 30-min warm-up time, which will also be a key consideration in terms of ease of use for many consumers.
Dexcom are also launching new software alongside a new physical CGM device. This software will sync with a smartphone app and will replace the dedicated software platform previously needed to monitor long-term glucose trends. This is another important development because it means that people will be able to have greater access to their glucose in a way that will allow them to make different choices that can help them to manage their diabetes more easily.
Another important development with the Dexcom G7 is enhanced cybersecurity. The new circuit and chip use the latest in cybersecurity technology and Bluetooth security to ensure that information being relayed between the sensor and the monitor is kept secure. Many people are now becoming more aware of the security and privacy of the data they share and there is no data that is more important to keep secure than that related to health. Being able to trust that a product has as much security in place as possible will be reassuring to many consumers.
Last year, the FDA approved technology that pairs CGM devices with third-party fitness trackers, and this will allow Dexcom G7 users to sync their blood glucose data with their fitness data. This is another important development in self-management for people with diabetes because it will allow them to more conveniently gain insights into the link between their blood glucose levels and their lifestyle, which can allow them to make different choices if they wish to.
Is the Dexcom G7 just for people with diabetes?
Dexcom has, up until now, focused exclusively on helping people with diabetes manage their condition in a more effective and convenient way. But one of the most exciting things to come out of the new product launch is a hint that, fairly soon, everyone will be able to use CGM devices to monitor their glucose for health and wellness reasons.
Continuous glucose monitoring for health and wellness purposes is a brand new idea, but it makes complete sense. There is a steadily growing range of digital health products that can allow us to monitor everything from our heart rate, to our metabolism, our blood pressure, and even ovulation. So it makes sense for a product that measures blood glucose to enter the market right now, and there are some clear benefits for people without diabetes to use CGM devices.
Can I use a Dexcom G7 with my Apple Watch?
The approval by the FDA for technology that links CGM monitors and fitness trackers will extend to people who wish to use the device for health and fitness reasons. This means that pretty soon, you will be able to sync the glucose data from your Dexcom G7 with your Apple Watch or other fitness trackers. This opens up a whole new avenue for fitness fanatics and those concerned with their internal health because it allows you to monitor your glucose levels alongside your training, activity, and your diet.
The majority of people are blissfully unaware of the level of glucose in their blood unless they happen to have diabetes. Even if you don’t have diabetes, high levels of glucose in your blood can be an indicator of your health, and they can be related to a diet that is high in sugar as well as low levels of physical activity. Without diabetes, these high glucose levels are managed by the pancreas releasing insulin but, over time, continued high blood glucose can lead to health complications.
By using a CGM device, people without diabetes will be able to see the impact of their health and wellness lifestyle changes on their blood glucose over time, which can help them to stay fit and healthy for longer.
To wrap up
The launch of the Dexcom G7 is a step forward for continuous glucose monitoring devices. It will have a range of improvements over the previous Dexcom G6, many of which are highly relevant to end-users in terms of usability. This could spur a higher take-up in CGM use for the purposes of managing diabetes. The data is also showing that it is more accurate than its predecessor and other competitors, which is vital in helping people to effectively take control of their diabetes. There is also the potential for the Dexcom G7 to be applied to health and fitness uses in the general public, including the ability to link it with a fitness tracker. This could open up a new avenue for people to use CGM devices as a way of improving their health.