By Melicent Lavers-Sailly
Rob Howe felt he knew the best way to manage his Type 1 diabetes.
After living with the disease for nearly half his life, the 30-year-old former professional basketball player and entrepreneur was used to paying careful attention to his health.
Howe, a resident of Dallas, Texas, had been using an insulin pump for nearly a decade. He carefully managed his diet, exercise and insulin intake to keep his blood sugar in check. He had been able to avoid the steep highs and lows in blood sugar levels that cause health complications for so many people living with diabetes.
So, Howe was initially skeptical about trying the world’s first self-adjusting insulin pump – the Medtronic MiniMedTM 670G system – when it was approved for use in the U.S. two years ago by the Federal Food and Drug Administration.
But after he researched the science and technology behind the MiniMed 670G, he became convinced it could benefit him. He began using the system in February 2018 and is among approximately 100,000 Americans relying on the new pump today.
“I can see from my time in range, which is the main metric on the pump, that my numbers are in a much tighter range over a greater period of time. Even though I had tight control before, I feel much more confident in my decision making with the MiniMed 670G,” Howe says. “That just takes some of the stress off of me and allows me to be myself and not have diabetes be so involved in my whole life.”
Canadians with Type 1 diabetes will soon also be able to access the same ground-breaking technology, which helps to stabilize glucose levels 24 hours a day by automatically adjusting basal insulin delivery based on real-time insulin needs. Health Canada has licensed the system for use in people with Type 1 diabetes seven years of age and older. Medtronic expects to begin commercial release of the MiniMed 670G system in Canada later this fall. Approximately 300,000 Canadians live with Type 1 diabetes.
Howe says the new technology is giving him back some of the time and energy he had been burning each day managing his medical condition. “I’m spending less energy thinking about my diabetes. It’s incremental, but it adds up over time. I believe that all of life’s great treasures come from compound interest, so getting a little bit of each day back is going to add up tremendously for me long term.”
Howe, who played basketball against the Harlem Globetrotters as a member of the Washington Generals, said the MiniMed 670G allows him to be more active without worrying about spikes in his blood glucose levels.
He used to remove his previous insulin pump before playing basketball or exercising heavily because he wasn’t sure how it would handle the extra exertion of energy. As a result, his blood sugars would spike during basketball and make it difficult to enjoy getting involved in a game he loved.
The MiniMed 670G can be worn during strenuous exercise and continues to monitor blood glucose levels and make insulin adjustments.
“Now I have the confidence to exercise and be active and know my pump is doing all of my thinking for me,” Howe said. “If my levels start to go up, the pump will correct it and if my levels start to go down, the pump will stop giving me insulin and keep me in range.”*
Howe said the MiniMed 670G gives him more optimism for the future, knowing he can effectively manage his Type 1 diabetes with less effort.
“When I think about the next 50 years of diabetes in my life, going from 30 to 80, it gives me a lot of hope for what’s to come.”
Melicent Lavers-Sailly is senior manager of communications and corporate marketing at Medtronic Canada.