Since the Apple Watch began to conquer the wrists of millions of people, a question has arisen that has yet to be answered: when will the Apple Watch be able to monitor the level of glucose in the blood? This is an essential variable in the treatment of diabetes, one of the diseases of greatest concern in the world.
WHO estimates that in 1980 it affected 108 million people; that figure rose to 422 million by 2014. The only immediate treatment is insulin injection , which requires constant monitoring of blood glucose levels. Apple has never confirmed that it is working on this, but we can pick up a few crumbs that, in context, can show us the company’s intentions.
What is continuous glucose monitoring
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This is how the Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) systems are defined by the Diabetes Foundation, where they differentiate between this type of meter and conventional ones. The former measure glucose in the interstitial tissue and the latter directly in the blood.
As the image shows, the MCG is attached to the patient’s skin with a sensor that is inserted into the skin. This sensor measures the glucose in the interstitial fluid that the GCM will relay to a monitor. It is much more comfortable as the patient avoids constantly pricking his finger several times a day to control the glucose level.
Integration of the Apple Watch with these monitors as a first step
The attraction of this method of continuous glucose monitoring is that is significantly less invasive than the traditional method. It is currently a system that is already in use and in which Apple seems to have shown interest. The CEO of Dexcom stated that he has a collaboration with the company for the Apple Watch:
We don’t know more details about it, but what we do know is that Dexcom already has an app for the Apple clock that can keep track. Dexcom has an MCG called G6 which is currently one of the best rated by patients (can be seen in the image above).
The company’s CEO points to a closer integration between the G6 and the Apple Watch, for which they would have collaborated with Apple . Without a doubt, this type of system is a step forward and it is logical that Cupertino is interested in it if they want to create their own solution.
Since GCMs still require the insertion of a sensor under the skin, it remains invasive to the patient. That is why Apple is investigating other ways of monitoring blood glucose with the Apple Watch .
The Holy Grail of Diabetes Treatment
In 2017 we learned that a group of about 30 people were working on Apple’s glucose team. And that Apple has also hired staff from companies such as Vital Connect, Masimo, Sano, Medtronic and C8 Medisensors .
Apparently, Apple would be investigating an optical system to perform absorption spectroscopy. According to a patent found by AppleInsider:
Apple does not specify in the patent that its purpose is to test the blood glucose level. But clearly that’s its intention.
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Finding a completely non-invasive continuous glucose monitoring system is the so-called Holy Grail of health sciences today. Given Apple’s interest in health, integrating an optical sensor capable of measuring it would give the company a great advantage in this field.
Apple may not only help patients with diabetes so they can better control their insulin supply . It could also indicate to a healthy user how much glucose is involved in that donut or soda he has just taken, creating a clinically valuable record similar to that of heart rhythm and now heart rate.
If this were achieved, Apple would have a device capable of controlling three variables of great importance in health: physical activity, heart and glucose . All of this from the comfort of a watch that we always carry with us.