Staying Healthy

FDA warns against using these smart gadgets to measure blood sugar

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By , Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

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Smart watches and even smart rings can help monitor many aspects of health, such as your physical activity, sleep patterns, heart rate, and possibly even your heart's electrical activity. But don't use them to monitor your blood sugar if they claim they can do it without piercing your skin. The FDA warns that it has not reviewed the safety and effectiveness of these devices, and using them could result in inaccurate blood sugar measurements. That could be dangerous for people with diabetes, who must manage their condition by checking their blood sugar levels regularly — typically with a finger prick blood test or a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that uses tiny sensor wires that pierce the skin frequently and send information to a smartphone app. The FDA warning does not apply to CGMs, only to smart rings or smart watches with marketing promises for needle-free monitoring. If you have concerns about the accuracy of your monitor, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether it's an FDA-authorized, reliable blood glucose–measuring device.

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About the Author

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Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Heidi Godman is the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. Before coming to the Health Letter, she was an award-winning television news anchor and medical reporter for 25 years. Heidi was named a journalism fellow … See Full Bio
View all posts by Heidi Godman

About the Reviewer

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Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter

Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff is the Steven P. Simcox/Patrick A. Clifford/James H. Higby Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and editor in chief of the Harvard … See Full Bio
View all posts by Anthony L. Komaroff, MD

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