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From Alameda, California, USA:

How fast can blood glucose change in humans? I'm equally interested in rising and falling concentrations, and expecting that the answer will be in terms of mg/dl per minute, or something similar. I'm looking for the extreme cases here, not a typical value. The answer to this question will help me design better glucose meters.


It is hard to answer this question without a more specific notion of what you are hoping to achieve. The reason is that there is such a huge variation in the rate of rise and fall of blood sugar levels dependent on what variables are involved. In an intravenous glucose tolerance test, the blood glucose rise may exceed 100 mg/dl [5.6 mmol/L] per minute, but it is obviously much slower if the glucose is given orally. Likewise, intravenous insulin can produce a rapid fall although this is usually undesirable clinically. The rate of change will depend too on the dose, on the starting level of glucose, the availability of liver and muscle glycogen and the state of counterregulatory hormones.


Additional comments from Dr. Matthew Brown:

My experience with the The Continuous Glucose Monitoring System has shown the glucose values can be extremely labile. I have seen blood sugars increase or fall by over 300 mg/dl [16.7 mmol/L] in an hour. I would suggest consulting with MiniMed for access to some of their glucose sensor data which may be more revealing than my experience.


Original posting 8 Mar 2001
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