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Dexcom Seven Plus: First Impressions.

So far, so good.

Last night, I installed my first Dexcom Seven Plus sensor.  "First" might be a bit of a misnomer, because the sensors that actually go into my body are still the same as the ones I used previous.  I have a new transmitter (the little plastic part that clips into the sensor housing) and a new receiver (the external device), which are the pieces that have been upgraded.  

Dexcom has a good overview of the new system and its features, including a video that walks you through the upgrades.  They can give you all the technical jargony stuff.  :)

For me, I've put this new sensor on my left thigh and after the initial pinch, I was good to go.  The hardware on the Seven Plus works almost exactly like the old system, with a two hour calibration period, same sensor insertion devices, and the same general gist.  What's new is the software inside the receiver.

When I tried out the Minimed system last year, I liked the fact that the MiniLink had rate of change arrows on the CGM.  So when I looked at my pump, I could see my blood sugar graph and could also see if I was plummeting or rising quickly.  I was sorry that Dexcom didn't have this option before - but now they do.  The new Seven Plus has those rate of change arrows, and you can also set an alarm to BEEEEEEEEEP (if you want) when you're rising or falling too quickly. 

Oh so dexy ... I mean, sexy!

And regarding BEEEEEEEP!s, there are more beeping options on this thing, too.  You can set an alarm for a high, low, rise rate, fall rate, and sensor out of range (i.e. when the cat takes off with it in the middle of the night and you don't realize it until you wake up without it).  There are snooze alarms for the high and low levels, so I have mine set to BEEEEEEEP! at a low and then give me 30 minutes to correct and climb, instead of beeping its head off every five minutes for hours.  (Nice.) 

Another feature that's been added is the ability to add "events," like exercise, food, insulin doses, and health info - much like the One Touch Ultra meters.  I've been consistent so far with entering this info (read: it's only been 12 hours with this thing attached, so I'm in a bit of "new device euphoria" and I have no clue if I'll stick with being so tuned in), and if I can keep up, it will make the records from the Dex pretty comprehensive.

Dexcom 2 Software screenshot.  Sorry this caption wasn't that interesting.

The software is pretty good this round, able to download information from past sensors, instead of just the most previous one.  I took some screenshots of the software and gave my notes on Flickr, because honestly, I'm not terribly techy and writing on and on and on and on ... zzzzzzz ... and on about software upgrades could make me yawn my face off.  Overall, the software is good and tracks what I need it to track and if I was able to make my patient profile avatar into a picture of Siah's head, I would.  You know it.

Overall, I like the upgrades.  And the upgrade is universally available to all Dexcom users (EDIT:  It's available immediately to all new customers.  Existing ones can get it in May.  I'm not sure why that is, but if anyone from Dexcom is reading and wants to leave a comment, please do!), but I don't know the details of insurance coverage and cost.  I am glad that Dexcom is willing to push out new options as they become available, instead of waiting for a full device overhaul.  I'm hopeful that the next round of developments will help reduce the size of the sensor and the receiver. 

I'll let you know next week how a few days worth of experience with this system feels, but in the meantime, feel free to check out my Flickr photos of the Dexcom Seven Plus.  If you have questions, I'll do my best to help.  (Keep in mind:  I'm slightly clueless.)

Now I'm heading to work in this snow squall (WTF?) - what is that about?  I thought today was supposed to be the first day of spring??  More later!

[Dexcom disclosure]

Comments

Thanks for the review, Kerri! I called this morning and they told me the same thing. Luckily, I'll be eligible for the upgrade since it will be within a year, but I'm sort of disappointed that my transmitter died on Monday and instead of offering me the upgrade now, they're sending me the old transmitter and told me wait until May. If you hear from Dexcom about that, (especially for people who are paying out of pocket for the upgrade) let us know! :) Allison

Hi Kerri,
Thanks for all the flicker photos. There are so many things I'm excited about! The new color for the transmitter, yeah! I hate the current one because it's black and so obvious when worn on the arm with short sleeves. (My husband says it looks like a giant cockroach on my arm) So I only wear it on my arm during the long sleeves weather. So many other great features in the new software. The directional arrows. I can't wait to get the upgrade! I hope it happens soon because mine will be out of warranty the end of May.

Thanks for sharing your newest gadget with us :-)

Thank you so much for sharing the new seven plus with us Kerri .. in such detail too. It sounds like they made some great changes and I am looking forward to getting mine!

Thanks for the details! Glad you're liking the new Dexcom!

Thanks for the information Kerri. All I can do now is dream and hope that one day soon my 15 year old will want to wear a Dexcom. His aunt wears one and loves it. But for now he shows no interest! Drat!

I just looked at all the pictures in the Flickr set. Looks like some great information was added in that upgrade!

Hi Kerri: the reason the upgrade isn't starting until later this spring is that the new version of our Data Manager software (DM3) is currently being reviewed by the FDA. DM plays a big role in the upgrade process = To upgrade, you will receive an authorization code and new Transmitter in the upgrade kit. The Auth. code will be entered into DM and will upgrade the software on the Receiver. So you will have a new receiver as well - no interruption in CGMing.

Glad you're liking the SEVEN PLUS!

Have you had the opportunity to try the Freestyle Navigator? I have Cozmo pump and understand that Abbott is working with Smith Medical as Dexcom is working with Animas. I am just looking onto getting a CGM and was trying to compare the two. If each is working on creating a closed loop with the pump manufacturer I may be leaning towards the Navigator as my pump is new.

Thanks for all the great info in the CGMs. I have been using a Dexcom for about six months and find it to be accurate for the most part. I just started using a minimed pump and like the idea of having the "all in one" CGM /pump.
The Dexcom upgrade sounds tempting - I can upgrade for $200 - but for another 400 I can get the Minimed transmitter. Not sure what to do - I read previous cons for minimed (2008) posts -was wondering if anyone has more information. Has it improved?

Keep us posted regarding the new transmitter and software for the Dexcom-- I like the trend arrows. Is the new transmitter more accurate?


Kerri

I posted a (longish) video of the Dexcom Seven Plus in action. I like the improvements they've made, and I'm trying to get the paperwork completed right now.

The fact that they are selling the upgrade for $200 to newer users and forcing those of us who adopted early and have been paying for sensors the whole time $800 to upgrade is totally infuriating.

DexCom, this is VERY poor customer service for people who have been supporting you from the very beginning (I have used the system continuously since June 2006 when it first became available), and some of us are going to look for other options.

The article is usefull for me. I�ll be coming back to your blog.

Any updates on how you like the Dexcom? Has it allowed you improved control?

Can i ask you a question...are you all from the states? I have had type 1 diabetes since I was 2 years old and have never been offered anything you've mentioned above. Kind of sucks, i guess it's because i'm living in the Uk??

Hello Carrie, I am starting the Dex 7 very soon, maybe before Christmas. My insurance is covering everything! YEAH!!!

I appreciate your review and info very much.

I have had my DexCom for almost a week. Wondered how often you all get the ??? on your system? I seem to get mine almost every day and don't think this is right.

hi Kerri, thanks for sharing. how is the dexcom working for you now? was calibration a problem for you? our insurance won't pay for this but we want to get one somehow. my daughter is a brittle diabetic and needs it desperately! thanks for any help you can give.

Is the unit covered using MEDICARE? How much does it cost? Thanks Clark

Hi Kerri

I know this is an old post, but wondering if you can share with me how accurate the 7's been for you.
I have been using a Navigator for over 2 years and love it; but they've been unable to provide new product in the US for quite a while. It appears to have died on me.

I try to use anything but Medtronic. But over the course of time I've met quite a few people who had but were not using a Dex cgm; but I don't know if it was some kind of user error.

If you get this message, I sure appreciate your feedback. Thanks,

For those people that are using DEXCOM Seven Plus can you give me some idea as to how many days usage you are getting from the sensor. I have read where some people are getting more than the 7 days.

Does Dexcom Seven insulin pumps too ?
I trying to find small insert insulin pumps just look like dexcom Seven.
NO TUBING along w/ insulin pumps!!
I like small & thin.
The OmniPod is thick & big.
I don't want that.

Good Morning,

I recently purchased the seven plus, and I began using it earlier this week. I am a type 1 diabetic, and in the past, I have used the Abbott freestyle navigator for two years, and over the past 6 months I have been using the Medtronic CGM, so I am familiar with all three of the current CGM's that are available on the market in the USA. For what it’s worth, I would like to share my opinion on the pros and cons of all three units side by side.

ABBOTT’S FREESTYLE NAVIGATOR:

The freestyle navigator has the nicest looking handset and display out of all three major brands, and is easy read. The 24 hour customer service is very good. The sensors are fairly comfortable, and the readings are very accurate, however, it takes ten hours to calibrate, which means that every five days, there is a large unprotected window of time, which can be very scary not only for me, but also for my wife, during the night. The sensor adhesive does not tend to last a full five days before it begins to peel. Computer tracking software is available, though not very user friendly. The alarm settings are terrible, it is extremely loud, and there are many glitches that need to be worked out for the next generation. It seems that no matter how well you manage your glucose levels, it will keep you awake all night. Supplies for the Navigator are very limited… I had to go on a waiting list for over seven months prior to receiving one.

MEDTRONIC’S CGM w/ INSULIN PUMP:

I began using the Medtronic CGM in February of this year, at the same time that I began to use the Paradigm Revel Pump. The display is obviously small, but it’s nice to have everything integrated onto the pump and not have to carry a second device. On the other hand, the signal is extremely weak. I presume this is due to the fact that all of the hardware is packed into a small pump. This often results in “weak signal” and “lost sensor” alerts.

The carelink software is unmatched at present. It is web based, and keeps track of everything. It’s like having a "blackbox" for my BG, insulin settings, alarms, ECT. Both my doctor, and the 24 hour customer help line are able to track my every move at any time, and offer suggestions to prevent repeated complications. I have been informed that Medtronic is currently working on an "app" that will allow it to integrate with my iphone/ipad... In my opinion the carelink software is the best CGM software on the market.

On the other hand Medtronic claims the device can be calibrated in as little as two hours, but I do not recommend it. It is extremely inaccurate. They claim that their CGM is accurate within 20% of your actual BG, but this was not true for me. At one point I kept a log for several weeks, where I tracked the reading I was receiving on my CGM, and compared it to my actual fingerstick BG calibrations. If the CGM was reading around 110 for example, my actual BG was anywhere from 40 to 270... Big difference! The Medtronic trainers and representatives advised me to wait longer than two hours before calibrating... this helped significantly, but it was still not within 20% accuracy.

The alarms on the pump are terrible. During the day, they will drive anyone crazy, they beep constantly, and even after you clear an alarm, it will often start to beep uncontrollably within a minute or two. The irony is that at night, the alarms are useless. They are not loud enough to be heard when I am wearing a jacket, let alone when I am alseep,under blankets, and the pump is attached to my waist. Often times the pump will beep all night, and drain my battery, while I sleep. If I’m fortunate, my wife will hear it, but no guarantees. Unquestionably, they have the worst alarm set up, but that’s not the worst part....

....The Medtronic sensors are by far, the largest and most invasive out of any CGM on the U.S. market. In my opinion, the FDA did the type 1 diabetes community an injustice when they approved this product. From the time I inserted my first Medtronic sensor late in February, to the time I inserted my final one two weeks ago, I have had an infection every single time. Often times the cists range from "pea size" to "large grape size", which is in addition to the ones caused by my insulin pump (I had a cist that was larger than a golf ball two weeks ago that was caused by my Medtronic paradigm revel) They are extremely painful…I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemies. I have had to take some very powerful antibiotics in the past few months to fight off the infections. On any given day of the week, I have had anywhere from four or more infections on my arms, stomach, and legs due to my Medtronic devices. In the last 2 months I have constantly been feeling sick and fatigued, which is due to the constant infections. The last Medtronic sensor I wore for only two days, and it was removed four days ago. At present I still have a hard red cist that is bigger than a grape, and prior to that I wore a sensor for three days, and I still have a hard cist that is larger than a pea, six days later. I am taking powerful antibiotics for both. Over the last six months, I have been anxiously awaiting the release of the next generation Medtronic sensors which are supposed to be half the size, and twice as accurate... but at this point I ask Medtronic, who cares??? ...Half the current size still does not mean it is smaller than the Abbott freestyle navigator sensors, much less the Dexcom Seven Plus. Twice as accurate still does not put them within the 20% range that they are promising with the current sensors, based on what I have seen.

DEXCOM’S SEVEN PLUS:

I decided it was time to try the “Seven +”, which I have been using for three days now. That being said, I am amazed at the size of Dexcom's sensors, they are the smallest and least invasive out of all three major brands. My only complaint is the large bulky receiver handset, but I am certainly willing to live with that in exchange for the constant infections. I have started using the "data manager" software...It’s okay, although it is not as sophisticated as Medtronic’s carelink software. I am looking forward to FDA approval of the release of the integrated “Animas Ping”/ “Dexcom Seven +” so that I will only have to carry one device, but there is a much simpler solution.... I would love to see a smaller receiver that can be worn as a wrist watch, which would make Dexcom’s Seven Plus the perfect CGM... Why hasn’t anyone come out with one yet??? In the meantime, I would like to thank Dexcom for providing a product that monitors my BG with minimal complications.

So this is my second Dexcom unit and it has failed! The first unit the belt clip broke off and it was lost. The second replacement unit was warrantied for six months. I did not install the unit through the summer and just put it on 26 days ago. The electonics in the reciever are bad lots of beeping and inconsistant readings. I contacted customer service and they told me it was out of warranty. I told them they could see when I started using the new unit because I called in to them to sync the sending unit and reciever. She agreed and said it was still out of warranty! Still fighting that. I asked them what the life of the reciever should be. She replyed ONE YEAR!!!! I do not remember reading this anywhere! So to all question this, how many electronic pieces of equipment do you own that are expected to only last a year?

I did not care for my Dexcom and am in the process of returning it. You cannot return the "Seven sensor packs", I have 3, can I sell these?

I honestly feel as though this product is a total letdown. I've been using it now for a few months and it can be sometimes over 100+ mg/dl off. This is simply inexcusable.

The company says it can be 20% off at times, but I am almost finding this thing to be a total waste of time and energy. How about 100% off...and it never gets more accurate, no matter how many numbers you put in...

It's good, at times, for trends, but for anything else, it's an utter failure.

If you're considering getting the Dexcom, I'd wait another generation or two...this is still really an experimental item. Also, the alarm is not adjustable and would never wake you up...

thanks for this review! I'm hoping to get a dexcom one day. Does anyone know if the Dexcom software work on Macs?

I have just received my dexcom 7 and about to place my first one. 2 weeks ago my blood sugar went low and I was out for over 24 hours. Not aware, how scary. Hoping this will wake me up, and work. Waiting for when the pump and CGM are one unit.

I have been using the DEXCOM
for about a month.
I love it so far, I would really like to see an improvement that I feel would make everyone life a little easier.
If I could see on the meter what time I took my last dose of insulin it would greatly increase my ability to control. this would allow me to see the peak time of the insulin I'm using.

A friend of mine sent me her EXTRA Seven+ CGM, and I'm in the process of installing. I am pretty old-school (I use needles, not a pump), pretty healthy for a 51-yo diabetic and I'm a musician, so I am really leery of beeping. But I am dying to know my trends and what goes on when I eat certain foods, without doing fingersticks every 5 minutes. Also eager to learn what it takes to get my A1C below 7 again. What kind of things do I need to know before I fly with this on? Can you lock the buttons on the receiver so they don't get bumped accidentally? (like keylock on a phone). This doesn't seem to be addressed by the manual. I am very active and kind of a klutz so I hope Dexcom doesn't assume that diabetics just sit around watching their meters.

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