For the 26 million people in the United States with diabetes, today’s faster, more accurate blood glucose meters are a welcome improvement. Consumer Reports compared 17 models with a standard laboratory analyzer and had a panel of six people with diabetes evaluate their convenience.
Twelve models performed well enough to be recommended, including three CR Best Buys: ReliOn Confirm, ReliOn Micro, and ReliOn Ultima (all available at Walmart; each $9). CR’s experts say that using any blood glucose meter cleared by the Food and Drug Administration is beneficial, but they found some to be more reliable than others.
ACCURACY IS KEY
Current standards require that the devices be accurate within 20 percentage points of lab readings. CR thinks those standards should be tightened, an improvement the FDA is considering. CR’s Ratings allow the comparison of the accuracy of various models beyond the current guidelines. All models that were tested were well within current accuracy regulations, but only those with Very Good or Excellent scores earned CR’s recommendation.
Accu-Chek Compact Plus ($20), Accu-Chek Aviva ($20), and TRUEresult (Walgreens; $18) all earned Excellent accuracy scores and were also Very Good for repeatability, CR’s evaluation of how consistent the meters were from test to test. They work quickly, have a lot of memory and can track the average readings over time. The Accu-Chek models can also download results to your PC.
Most models now have either automatic coding or a removable chip that codes for you. Accu-Chek Compact Plus and Bayer Breeze 2 ($30) each have a cartridge that stores and automatically loads test strips, but that feature made them too bulky for some of the panelists.
Don’t focus on the meter’s price tag, which ranges from $9 to $84; the test strips can cost up to $1,750 a year for four tests per day. Check which brands of blood glucose meters and strips your insurance covers. If you are responsible for a substantial portion of the cost, consider ReliOn Confirm, ReliOn Micro, and ReliOn Ultima models from Walmart. They have a low annual test-strip expense (about $570), and all three have some nice features, including automatic test-strip coding for Confirm and Micro. ReliOn Confirm and the ReliOn Ultima can store at least 360 readings that can be downloaded to your computer.
With an eye to cold and flu season, Consumer Reports tested 10 thermometers that are probably speedier than those you used growing up. CR tested two types on four adults without fevers, comparing each device’s read-out against a medical thermometer’s.
The most accurate thermometers were within 0.5 degrees of the medical thermometer, and all but one were at least rated Good at repeating a retaken temperature. The exception: the lowest-rated Vicks ComfortFlex V966F-24 ($15). Results varied widely among ComfortFlex thermometers, and some came with dead batteries.
The top-rated digital stick thermometer, the CVS Flexible Tip Digital ($15), has a flexible tip, which most users preferred to the rigid type, and its read-out took just 8 seconds. The least expensive model, Walmart’s ReliOn Rigid 60 Second ($3), a CR Best Buy, was accurate and best at repeating the correct temperature, though it has a small display and a long read-out time.
The top infrared models — Vicks V977 (forehead, $37), another CR Best Buy, and Exergen Temporal Scanner TAT-2000C (forehead, $50) — were accurate and comfortable.
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