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Pump Model Similarities

Although it seems most insulin pump users have a favourite, there is no such thing as the “best” insulin pump in absolute terms; the best insulin pump for your child is the one that has features that fit your family’s values and lifestyle, and minimizes the features that will most drive you crazy.

With that in mind, here is a more detailed summary showing the similarities of all the insulin pumps available in Canada.

Please note that this article contains affiliate links.


SIMILARITIES BETWEEN DIFFERENT PUMP MODELS



Of the insulin pump models currently licensed for distribution in Canada, the following features are available on most insulin pumps, across the different models and manufacturers listed above:
  • Extremely small basal insulin increments, which allow you to finely tune basal rates:
  • Omnipod®:  0.05 U/hr at all basal rate levels
This feature refers to the background (“basal”) insulin, which is delivered every few minutes via the insulin pump. Small increments are especially useful for small children and for individuals who are particularly insulin-sensitive.
If your child is currently on an injected insulin program, “basal” insulin includes long-acting insulin (ex. Lantus, Levemir) or intermediate-acting insulin (ex. N/NPH). In an insulin pump program, they are replaced by rapid-acting insulin delivered in very small amounts every few minutes; the rate at which it is delivered is called the “basal rate”. To put this into perspective, a basal rate of 0.025u/hr means that 25/1000ths of a unit are being delivered every hour. If a portion of this hourly amount is being delivered every 3 minutes, for example, then just over 1/1000th of a unit is delivered in each dose. These small increments allow high precision of programming for basal rates.
tips from the trenches of type 1 diabetes
Girl with insulin pump Although this seems like amounts of insulin so small that one step to the next wouldn’t make a difference… for our son it does. There are several hours in the day when his basal rate is set at 0.025 u/hr. We have tested and found that, at these times, one step up is too much, and one step down (a zero-rate) is too little.
~Michelle

  • Alternate Basal Pattern programming:
You can set different rates for basal insulin delivery to adjust for anticipated differences in activity level (ex. school days versus weekends; workout days vs. non-workout days). For example, if your child is very active in school sports during the week, but spends most of her time on the weekends texting her friends as she lounges on her bed, she may need less insulin during the school week. If, however, your child is part of the chess club at school, but plays soccer and hockey on the weekend, she may need less insulin on the weekends than during the school week.
  • Temporary Basal Rate programming:
When your child’s insulin needs are less or more than usual due to a temporary cause (ex. illness; particularly active, or inactive, days; consumption of high fat foods), you can set a temporary basal rate (“temp basal”) which either reduces or increases the amount of insulin delivered for a specified number of hours (ex. 10% less insulin for 8 hours; 30% more insulin for 3 hours).
  • Blood glucose meters that communicate blood glucose levels to the insulin pump:
If you use the associated meter to check blood glucose, you don’t have to re-enter the reading into the insulin pump itself – it will send the information wirelessly, to be used in bolus calculations and for record-keeping. Alternatively, you can use a non-associated meter if you like (ex. a mini-meter in his pocket when your son goes skate-boarding for the morning), and then enter the blood glucose info into the insulin pump as needed.
  • Bolus calculators based on insulin-to-carbohydrate ratios (I:C):
Once you program in an insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio (I:C) of 1:10, for example (that is, you tell the insulin pump that your child needs 1 unit of insulin for every 10g of carbs) it will calculate a suggested insulin dose for the number of carbs you dial-in for a particular meal. For example, for the above insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio (I:C) of 1:10, if your child plans to eat 52g of carbs at lunch, it will suggest a dose of 5.2U of insulin. This becomes more and more handy the less and less “round” your numbers are, and is also very useful for children to operate their insulin pump independently – they don’t have to be able to do the math, they just have to know how many carbs are in the food in front of them.
tips from the trenches of type 1 diabetes
My 5-year-old son can deliver his own insulin at Kindergarten, as long as I send along a stickie note with the carb content. He can then dial-in 19g of carbs, for example, and let the insulin pump do the math, leaving him only to “scroll up” to match the number of units suggested by the insulin pump.
-Michelle


  • Bolus shortcut buttons:
Insulin can be delivered in pre-set increments at the push of a button, allowing quick and discrete insulin delivery, as well as insulin delivery for individuals with compromised vision, who may have trouble reading the insulin pump screen.
  • Bolus Reminder alarms:
Missed Bolus Reminder alerts the user if a bolus is not given within a set timeframe.
  • Correction Factors or Insulin Sensitivity Factors (ISF)
[that is, the amount of insulin given to treat high blood glucose] can vary at different times of the day.
  • Active insulin calculation (Insulin on Board, or Bolus on Board):
The pump will calculate how much insulin is still acting from the last bolus for food or for high blood glucose. Certain models, under certain circumstances (ex. below-target blood glucose reading) may subtract that amount from the current bolus recommendation (which may help prevent a low later).
  • Maximum basal rates, boluses, and total daily insulin:
You can set the maximum amount of insulin that the insulin pump will allow to be delivered as basal insulin, in a given bolus, and across the whole day. This can be helpful in preventing accidental over-delivery of insulin.
  • Auto shut off:
You can set the insulin pump to turn off automatically if no buttons are pressed within a specified time range of 1-24 hours. Or you can turn this function off.
  • Suspend and resume functions stop all insulin delivery and then restart, respectively, at the push of a button.
  • Low reservoir warning gives you a heads up that the insulin pump is starting to run low on insulin.
  • Locking keypad prevents insulin delivery by an unauthorized user, such as a young child.
  • Insulin pump history of boluses, basal rates, and total daily insulin delivery allows a user (or his parents!) to see exactly how much insulin was delivered and when.
  • Animas®, Medtronic®, and Accu-Chek® offer multiple types of infusion sets (short/long cannula; angled or 90 insertion; flexible or metal cannula; with or without auto-inserter device). Omnipod® has a built in 6.5mm angled infusion set.



Any questions? Comments? Feel free to Contact Us.


The above information was reviewed for content accuracy by clinical staff of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic.

The above information was reviewed for content accuracy by representatives of Animas and Medtronic.


This material has been developed from sources that we believe are accurate, however, as the field of medicine (in particular as it applies to diabetes) is rapidly evolving, the information should not be relied upon, as it is designed for informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction and/or treatment. If you have specific questions, please consult your doctor or appropriate health care professional.


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