I’m here to advocate the Advocate.
Specifically, I am delighted with the talking version of the Advocate Duo meter. It tests blood glucose and blood pressure in a tiny and attractive - and inexpensive - little device.
This is the second meter in just a few months that will give us both of these key tests. In June I reviewed the Duo-Care that GenExel-Sein had just introduced as the first combined blood glucose and wrist blood pressure monitor.
But there are two things about the Duo-Care that I don’t like. The price, $89.99, is too high and the packaging is fiendishly difficult to open.
I just received and have started to test the talking version of the Advocate Duo. For people not covered by Medicare it retails for $59.99.
I don’t know about the packaging of the Advocate Duo yet, because the manual, the labels, and the boxes are still at the printing plant. Frank P. Suess, president of the Diabetic Support Program in Wellington, Florida, sent me the "naked" meter.
He told me a few days ago for an earlier article here that this meter will be available soon. Next month too they will introduce a non-talking version of the Advocate that will test blood glucose but not blood pressure for $20.99. The talking version of the Advocate will be $30.99.
Frank asked me to compare the readings I got from the Advocate Duo and the Duo-Care. Since I also have an Omron Hem-711AC blood pressure device, which was highly rated when I bought it several years ago, I compared the readings from all three devices.
The product literature for the Omron and Duo-Care both say to relax and wait a few minutes between tests. Blood pressure also changes from minute to minute.
So my comparison of these blood pressure meters was even more difficult to make than comparing blood glucose meters. Still, except for one abnormally low reading from the Omron, all of my readings were close.
Unlike most people with diabetes, I have always had normal blood pressure, with a systolic pressure (when the heart contracts or beats) of less than 130 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and a diastolic pressure (when the heart relaxes between beats) of less than 85. Now that I have lost a lot of weight on Byetta and also follow a low-sodium diet, my blood pressure is down below the optimal level of 120 over 80, according to all three of these meters.
My wife, who also has type 2 diabetes, also compared these three blood pressure meters. On the same day as she compared them her doctor checked her blood pressure with an Omrom meter in his office that gave a result that was close.
Both the Advocate Duo and the Duo-Care are much easier to use than our Omron meter. That’s mostly because the Omron uses an arm cuff that you need to tighten and carefully keep in place, while the newer meters use wrist cuffs. Omron does, however, now offer wrist blood pressure meters, which must be easier to use, but which I haven’t tested.
Not only does the Advocate Duo and the talking version of the Advocate talk to you in English, you can easily change the settings so that it will talk to you in Spanish. The English voice is clear and a pleasure to hear when it speaks out systolic and diastolic readings as well as the pulse.
The Advocate Duo has only two buttons, a large LCD display, and a test strip port. One of the buttons is an off/on switch and the other lets you cycle back through earlier tests. A smiley face and high or low indications, where appropriate, are a nice touch.
My blood glucose tests were close to those that I took at the same time on my Accu-Chek Aviva. My wife’s blood glucose tested close on the Advocate Due and the Rightest GM300. The Advocate Duo takes only a small amount of blood, but it uses tiny strips, and it’s hard to see if you have enough blood on them.
A box of 50 strips retails at the reasonable rate of $18.95. Even better, Frank Suess wrote me that if you order five boxes of strips, they will send you a talking or non-talking meter free.
The decision to get a talking meter should be an easy one, even if you have reasonably good vision. For me it means that I don’t have to use my glasses to see the result. Besides, with a talking Advocate or Advocate Duo you can relax until it tells you the results.
But even a non-talking blood pressure meter like the Advocate Duo is something that everyone with diabetes needs in his or her toolkit. I am certainly an advocate for regularly blood pressure testing. While that won’t control your blood pressure any more than testing your blood glucose will control your A1C, knowing what your levels are is the first step toward changing what needs to be changed in order to take control of your life.
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David Mendosa is a journalist who learned in 1994 that he has type 2 diabetes, which he now writes about exclusively. He has written thousands of diabetes articles, two books about it, created one of the first diabetes websites, and publishes the monthly newsletter, “Diabetes Update.” His very low-carbohydrate diet, current A1C level of 5.3, and BMI of 19.8 keep his diabetes in remission without any drugs. He can be found on Twitter @davidmendosa and on Facebook at David Mendosa.