What the best blood glucose meter has
- Accuracy. Several clinical studies
show that just because a blood glucose monitor meets accuracy standards when it
receives initial FDA clearance doesn't mean it'll still perform up to those
standards in the real world. The best meters have a good track record for
accuracy in clinical trials, independent tests and with consumers.
- Ease of use. If your glucometer is simple
to use, you're more likely to test as often as you should. For most users that
means a bright, easy to read screen, buttons that are easy to handle, forgiving
test strips and a reasonably small blood sample. If you're vision-impaired, a
meter that talks can greatly improve your accessibility.
- No coding necessary. Not having to code your
meter every time you open a pack of test strips -- inputting a new code by hand
or by using a key or chip -- means one less opportunity for error. However,
some users say they're accustomed to coding and don't mind doing it.
- A small sample size. The less blood your meter
requires for each test, the less painful it tends to be, and the less likely
you'll get an "insufficient blood" error and waste the test strip.
- Alternate site testing. Being able to draw blood
from your palms can give your sensitive fingertips a break. Some meters allow
you to test with blood from your arms, legs or abdomen too. However, there are
some situations in which you shouldn't use alternate-site testing (for example,
during rapid blood glucose shifts), so you should ask your doctor before using
- The ability to store
best blood glucose meters can store hundreds or even thousands of readings with
date and time stamps to help you track the timing and consistency of your
- Averaging and flagging
blood glucose monitors will calculate your average readings over a 7-, 14- or
30-day period; some also let you flag before- or after-meal status for your
readings and add custom notes, all of which helps track trends in your glucose
- Data transfer capability. Meters with data transfer
capability -- often by USB cable -- can upload the information to a computer to
better help you track your blood sugar and share it with your physician.
- Affordable test strips. Test strips are far and away
the most expensive aspect of using a blood glucose meter. Prices on test strips
can range anywhere from $8 to $50 or more per box of 50. Some manufacturers
with more expensive strips offer co-pay assistance programs to help drive the
cost of test strips down into this range.
Know before you go
FDA's previous warnings about GDH-PQQ test strips are no longer available
online, as of 2009 they had received reports of 13 deaths due to glucose meters
and GDH-PQQ test strips that misread blood sugar levels. Those people were
taking certain sugar-containing therapies -- mostly a kidney dialysis solution
-- that fooled the meter into thinking their blood glucose was high enough,
when in reality it was fatally low. You can see a limited, archived version of their advisory here.
happens to people who take sugar-containing products and only with glucose
meters that use a type of test strips known as GDH-PQQ (glucose dehydrogenase
pyrroloquinoline quinone) that can't tell the difference between glucose and
If you take
any of the following products, the FDA advised to never use meters with GDH-PQQ
(icodextrin) peritoneal dialysis solution
immunoglobulins: Octagam 5 percent, Gamimune N 5 percent, WinRho SDF Liquid,
Vaccinia Immune Globulin Intravenous (Human) and HepaGamB
adhesion reduction solution (4 percent icodextrin)
product that contains, or the body breaks down into, maltose, galactose or