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Freestyle Libre Reduces Diabetes-Related Hospitalizations

Written and medically reviewed by Dorcas Morak, Pharm.D

The Freestyle Libre System has been shown to considerably reduce acute diabetes-related outcomes such as severe hypoglycemia and diabetic ketoacidosis. The Real-World Evidence of FreeStyle Libre (RELIEF) study found that the FreeStyle Libre System lowers the incidence of hypoglycemia and diabetic ketoacidosis, which are the two conditions that most frequently make it difficult for people with diabetes to comply with their treatment plans. According to a different study, hospital admissions for ketoacidosis fell by 52% in people with type 1 diabetes and by 47% in people with type 2 diabetes. It is worth noting the impact of the system on lowering diabetes complications because it will greatly lower the likelihood of older adults developing dementia, fracture, and even death from hypoglycemia.

Read on to find out more about the FreeStyle Libre System and its impact on reducing diabetes-related hospitalization.

What is Freestyle Libre and how does it work?

FreeStyle Libre is a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device that does not require a finger prick blood sample. Instead, a tiny sensor is painlessly inserted below the upper arm skin to monitor blood glucose levels with the help of an accompanying screen monitor. The monitor screen is placed over the sensor each time to get the reading. A sensor can last up to 14 days before switching it out. The monitor screen is reusable with a rechargeable battery, but new sensors are continuously purchased.

What does the research say about Freestyle Libre?

The RELIEF study that involved 5,933 type 2 diabetes patients who used the FreeStyle Libre System and were on a basal insulin-only regimen showed that:

  • 67% fewer acute diabetes event-related hospitalizations one year after starting treatment with the system.
  • 75% fewer hospitalizations for diabetic ketoacidosis.
  • 44% fewer admissions for severe hypoglycemia.

Do you have to be on insulin to use Freestyle Libre?

Technically, you can use Freestyle Libre without taking insulin. But the device's main function is to assist those who need insulin in monitoring and controlling their blood glucose levels.

What are the Pros of Freestyle Libre?

The pros of the FreeStyle Libre System include:

  • No blood sample is required.
  • No need for a finger prick.
  • The sensor insertion is painless.
  • It is convenient to use in every setting: traveling, working, etc.
  • Can be connected to your phone and track your blood sugar level via an app.
  • More reasonably priced than other glucose monitors.
  • A waterproof sensor that allows for brief swimming and bathing in shallow water.

What are the Cons of Freestyle Libre?

The cons of the FreeStyle Libre System include:

  • Potential false reading because the sensor doesn't measure glucose in the blood but rather in cellular fluids.
  • The original version doesn't alert you if your blood glucose levels are off until you actively check them.
  • It may cause skin irritation at the point of inserting the sensor.
  • It is not available over the counter.
  • Possibility for blood glucose issues during sleep, in which the system won’t alert you (unless you’re using the Libre 2 or 3).

How to use Freestyle Libre?

Follow these outlined steps for how to use FreeStyle Libre System

  • Use the applicator to place the sensor into your upper arm.
  • Wave the reader above the sensor to check your blood sugar level.
  • Set a reminder for yourself to check every 8 hours.
  • Replace the sensor after 14 days with a new one.

Where can you get the Freestyle Libre System?

You can purchase the FreeStyle Libre System with prescriptions from pharmacies and medical supply stores. Remember the monitor screen is reusable while the sensor can be used for up to 14 days before switching out.

How much does Freestyle Libre cost?

The cost varies depending on whether you have insurance, but the device typically costs about $70. Additionally, the cost of replacing the sensor might range from $10 to $75 per month. However, you don’t have to spend this much when you can get up to 88% cheaper with a rxless discount coupon. The discount coupon is acceptable in many pharmacies in your locality including CVS Pharmacy, Rite Aids, and Walgreens.

Are there other non-finger-stick continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices?

Other non-finger-stick CGM devices are available and how often to replace their sensors are: Dexcom G6 (10 days), Eversense (90 days), and Guardian Connect System (7 days).