Blood sugar testing is the bane of every diabetic patient's life. The temptation not to bother is very strong. Anything to make this task easier is most welcome, and the FreeStyle Mini fits the bill. The meter measures a tiny 75 x 40 x 16mm, weighs just 40g, and will fit in the smallest of pockets.
Setting up the meter is extremely simple. The time and date are set, together with the code number that is indicated on the testing strip - and that's it. No control solutions or calibrations are necessary.
Blood sugar testing is a breeze. The meter is switched on by inserting the test strip. The Freestyle lancing device is loaded with a fresh lancet and fired at a convenient bit of skin. The skin of the forearm is much less sensitive than the fingers and this is becoming a popular site for lancing. Using less sensitive sites is likely to increase patient compliance.
Following lancing, if you can now see a pinhead-sized drop of blood, then you have enough to perform the test. Only 0.3mu l of blood is required for the test, which comes as good news for diabetics who are used to the old problem of having to squeeze the site hard for an adequate sample, or worse still having to lance again.
The test strip, protruding in readiness from the meter is then swept across the blood sample, and a reassuring beep confirms when the strip has sucked up enough blood. Seven seconds later the result is clearly displayed, and then stored alongside the date and time for future recall.
The memory holds up to 250 test results and will display the average blood sugar value over the preceding 14 days.
The meter and lancing device fit into a neat pochette, is simple to operate and was greeted with enthusiasm from my diabetic patients, who all decided that at £18 it is a bargain.
But there's more. There are two lights: one acts as a display backlight, and the other illuminates the test strip. There are four alarms that can be set to remind you to perform a test. The meter runs on two lithium batteries, which will last for about 500 tests. The test strips, which are available on prescription, have a shelf life of more than 18 months.
Finally, there is a data port in the side of the meter, which will allow downloading blood sugar results into your computer - although the lead is not yet available.
This tiny marvel is well thought-out, effective and great value. But most of all it makes a diabetic patient's lot much easier and even introduces a little fun into blood sugar testing.
- An independent review by Dr Colin Lewis, a GP in Guildford, Surrey, with an interest in cardiology
- Equipment provided by Williams Medical Supplies