The necessity of strict glycemic control is unquestionable. However, hypoglycemia remains a major limiting factor in achieving satisfactory glucose control, and evidence is mounting to show that hypoglycemia is not benign. Over the past decade, evidence has consistently shown that real-time continuous glucose monitoring improves glycemic control in terms of lowering glycated hemoglobin levels. However, real-time continuous glucose monitoring has not met the expectations of the diabetes community with regard to hypoglycemia prevention. The earlier trials did not demonstrate any effect on either mild or severe hypoglycemia and the effect of real-time continuous glucose monitoring on nocturnal hypoglycemia was often not reported. However, trials specifically designed to reduce hypoglycemia in patients with a high hypoglycemia risk have demonstrated a reduction in hypoglycemia, suggesting that real-time continuous glucose monitoring can prevent hypoglycemia when it is specifically used for that purpose. Moreover, the newest generation of diabetes technology currently available commercially, namely sensor-augmented pump therapy with a (predictive) low glucose suspend feature, has provided more convincing evidence for hypoglycemia prevention. This article provides an overview of the hypoglycemia outcomes of randomized controlled trials that investigate the effect of real-time continuous glucose monitoring alone or sensor-augmented pump therapy with a (predictive) low glucose suspend feature. Furthermore, several possible explanations are provided why trials have not shown a reduction in severe hypoglycemia. In addition, existing evidence is presented of real-time continuous glucose monitoring in patients with impaired awareness of hypoglycemia who have the highest risk of severe hypoglycemia.
Keywords: continuous glucose monitoring; diabetes mellitus; hypoglycemia; sensor-augmented pump therapy; severe hypoglycemia.
© 2016 Diabetes Technology Society.