Fatima, a patient at the Center, was transferred to the insulin pump system and says there are many advantages. She said:
Being on the insulin pump is much more comfortable than injections. It requires some training on how to use the devise, but it offers better control overall. I’m very pleased with it.’
An insulin pump helps patients with diabetes keep their blood glucose levels within a pre-determined target range by functioning almost like a human pancreas. It pumps basal insulin every hour, continuously during the day, in amounts adjusted by a patient’s doctor. In addition to providing the patient with more leeway in their diet, and when they eat, it also helps prevent blood glucose levels from fluctuating.
Consultant in Diabetes and Endocrinology at Hamad General Hospital, Dr Dabia Al Mohanadi, said:
At meal times patients should input the amount of carbohydrates they consume and their blood sugar reading. The device will then pump the suitable amount of bolus insulin into the body.’
The role of basal insulin, also known as background insulin, is to keep blood glucose levels consistent. The basal dose is designed to mimic the minute-by-minute release of insulin by a normal pancreas. In contrast, bolus insulin mimics the normal release of insulin from the pancreas in response to meals. It is taken at meal times in order to keep blood glucose levels under control.
According to Dr Al Mohanadi, who manages the insulin pump program at the National Diabetes Center, the insulin pump therapy isn’t an option for all diabetic patients. To be eligible for an insulin pump a patient must be assessed by a specialised diabetes healthcare team and must meet specific medical and lifestyle eligibility criteria.
Diabetic patients who are deemed eligible for insulin pump therapy complete a training programme and a trial period to test their adaptability to the insulin pump. The training includes about five sessions with an insulin pump educator, who teaches the patient how the device is used, and sessions with a dietician who teaches the patient how to measure their carbohydrate intake.
Dr Al Mohanadi cautions that while insulin pump therapy provides patients with greater lifestyle flexibility and better control of their diabetes, it isn’t the best treatment for all patients. Patients interested in insulin pump therapy are encouraged to talk to their diabetic healthcare team.