Prolonged exercise in type 1 diabetes: performance of a customizable algorithm to estimate the carbohydrate supplements to minimize glycemic imbalances

Maria Pia Francescato, Giuliana Stel, Elisabetta Stenner, Mario Geat
PloS One 2015, 10 (4): e0125220
Physical activity in patients with type 1 diabetes (T1DM) is hindered because of the high risk of glycemic imbalances. A recently proposed algorithm (named Ecres) estimates well enough the supplemental carbohydrates for exercises lasting one hour, but its performance for prolonged exercise requires validation. Nine T1DM patients (5M/4F; 35-65 years; HbA1c 54 ± 13 mmol · mol(-1)) performed, under free-life conditions, a 3-h walk at 30% heart rate reserve while insulin concentrations, whole-body carbohydrate oxidation rates (determined by indirect calorimetry) and supplemental carbohydrates (93% sucrose), together with glycemia, were measured every 30 min. Data were subsequently compared with the corresponding values estimated by the algorithm. No significant difference was found between the estimated insulin concentrations and the laboratory-measured values (p = NS). Carbohydrates oxidation rate decreased significantly with time (from 0.84 ± 0.31 to 0.53 ± 0.24 g · min(-1), respectively; p < 0.001), being estimated well enough by the algorithm (p = NS). Estimated carbohydrates requirements were practically equal to the corresponding measured values (p = NS), the difference between the two quantities amounting to -1.0 ± 6.1 g, independent of the elapsed exercise time (time effect, p = NS). Results confirm that Ecres provides a satisfactory estimate of the carbohydrates required to avoid glycemic imbalances during moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, opening the prospect of an intriguing method that could liberate patients from the fear of exercise-induced hypoglycemia.

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