For people with diabetes the so-called "vital signs" that health care people talk about have to include our blood glucose level. So I couldn't think of a better name for a blood glucose meter than "Vital."
Arkray in Edina, Minnesota, seems to agree. At least that's what the call their new meter. You may not be familiar with Arkray, but it is the world's fifth largest manufacturer of diabetes self-monitoring systems. This company calls their new meter the "Glucocard Vital."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Glucocard Vital in November. Arkray just ramped up production and sent me one of the first of these meters, the newest meter on the market.
Yesterday I put my Glucocard Vital through its paces. It performed perfectly for me. Since I test so many blood glucose meters, I like to use them before ever looking at the user instruction manual.
I just pulled out one of the test strips, inserted it in the meter, which then turned out automatically with the battery already in place. Even the date was already correctly set. Later, of course, I did read the manual to see if it contains anything of importance that I need to tell you about.
The Newest Blood Glucose Meter
The Glucocard Vital has all the features that we expect of new blood glucose meters and perhaps one that you haven't heard of yet. It takes only half a microliter of blood, has a short seven-second test time, and is auto-coded. That means we don't have to adjust a new vial of test strips to the meter, which can prevent inaccurate readings when we forget to code them.
In addition, it uses a type of test strip chemistry -- technically called glucose oxidase -- that isn't affected by some serious interferences that cause testing errors in most other common test strips. LifeScan uses the same test strip chemistry in its OneTouch meters. Of course, all strips are sensitive to certain substances, so you need to check if you are taking high levels of things like acetaminophen (Tylenol), salicylates (including aspirin), and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Arkray representatives tell me that its Glucocard Vital uses the same platform and technology as the company's other blood glucose meters. But it actually uses different test strips from Arkray's three other meters, each of which requires a different strip. The suggested retail prices of the Glucocard Vital meter is $23 and of a vial of 50 test strips is $49.99. But insurance should cover most of those costs.
Arkray is just beginning to ship its new meter and expects that it will primarily appear on shelves of home medical equipment and durable medical equipment stores as well as be available through mail order. It's not likely to be available in retail stores and isn't available online anywhere yet.
I did not attempt to evaluate the accuracy of this -- or any other -- meter. While accuracy is a big concern of mine and of most everyone who tests his or her blood glucose level, I just don't have the resources to do such testing.
However, I did notice that Arkray's Glucocard vital website states that it is "highly accurate." Next to this statement is a tiny footnote, "Data on file."
Of course, I asked for that file. Here's the gist of what it says:
When professional clinicians used the meter on fingertips, 100 percent of the results when glucose levels were below 75 mg/dl were within the 15 mg/dl range that "diabetes experts have suggested" they should be. And 99 percent of the results when glucose levels were above 75 mg/dl were withing the 20 mg/dl range.
Here is the complete data file:
Accuracy Data File from Arkray
For those of us who have diabetes, checking our blood glucose is vital. Using a meter called the Glucocard Vital might just be an excellent way to give ourselves that reminder.