How a rugby player manages type 1 diabetes with the help of new technology

Sarah Vlasak from Minneapolis doesn’t let anything get in her way. Beyond playing for a Division 1 competitive women’s traveling rugby team, the Metropolis Valkyries, Sarah also lives with type 1 diabetes — a 24/7 condition that requires constant management.

When she was 17, Sarah started experiencing excessive urination and extreme thirst, along with other tell-tale signs of diabetes. Following a weekend of intense flu-like symptoms, Sarah visited her primary care physician and learned her blood sugar levels were off the charts. Sarah was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and discovered she was days away from a diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) coma.

Approximately 1.6 million Americans are living with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease in which the body can’t make insulin, the hormone needed for glucose (sugar) to enter cells and produce energy. When it can’t enter the cells, sugar stays in the bloodstream and builds up which can cause serious illness if not treated.[1]

To manage type 1 diabetes, insulin is taken throughout the day manually from an insulin pen, or through an insulin pump, and glucose levels need to be monitored on a constant basis to see how the body is reacting to the balance of carbohydrates and insulin.[1] Within a few weeks of Sarah’s type 1 diagnosis, she was independently managing her disease and ready to leave home.

In college, Sarah played rugby on a more social level, but it was really during the first year of playing competitively that she started having significant trouble managing her disease. The combination of anaerobic and aerobic activity made it difficult to balance her glucose levels. In order to better manage her diabetes with adrenaline spikes during games, Sarah decided to switch from a pump to multiple daily injections (MDI).

“I spent a significant amount of time researching how to balance diabetes with an active lifestyle because I just couldn’t get it right,” said Sarah. “It was difficult for me to wear my insulin pump while playing rugby, which resulted in extremely high highs due to being untethered for hours on end during matches or practice sessions. Eventually, my endocrinologist decided to switch me from a pump to MDI therapy plus a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) — together we identified the InPen™ + Guardian™ Connect smart MDI system was exactly what I needed!”

The InPen is the only smart insulin pen cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that pairs with Bluetooth® technology through an easy-to-use smartphone app. The InPen, which syncs with the Guardian Connect CGM system, makes the lives of people with diabetes easier by administering correction and meal-time insulin doses. These personalized recommendations are sent to compatible smartphones via Bluetooth every five minutes. The InPen also provides reports to help users visualize how insulin and meals affect glucose so that they can make informed adjustments when discussing their insulin therapy with healthcare providers.

“As soon as I started using the new technology, I immediately knew it was the right fit for me,” said Sarah. “The Guardian Connect pairs with the InPen to give me a fully integrated system that allows me to see my blood sugars at the same time as analyzing my active insulin. It is so helpful to be able to see all my real-time trends in one app and not have to be checking my blood sugar every five minutes for the same information. It gives me the ability to focus on my game and not my condition.”

If you use manual daily injections to manage your diabetes, talk to your doctor to learn more about the InPen + Guardian Connect system. Product details are available at https://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/products/cgm-and-smart-pen.



[1] Type 1 diabetes. Mayo Clinic. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-1-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20353011. Accessed April 1, 2021.

Important Safety Information: Guardian™ Connect CGM System

The Guardian™ Connect system requires a prescription and is indicated for continuous or periodic monitoring of glucose levels in the interstitial fluid under the skin, in patients (14 to 75 years of age) with diabetes mellitus. The system is intended to complement, not replace, information obtained from standard blood glucose monitoring devices, and is not recommended for people who are unwilling or unable to perform a minimum of two meter blood glucose tests per day, or for people who are unable or unwilling to maintain contact with their healthcare professional. The system requires a functioning mobile electronic device with correct settings. If the mobile device is not set up or used correctly, you may not receive sensor glucose information or alerts. For complete details of the system and its components, including warnings, contraindications, and precautions, please consult the user guide at http://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/support/download-library/user-guides and important safety information.

Important Safety Information: InPen™

The InPen™ is a home-use reusable pen injector for single-patient use by people with diabetes under the supervision of an adult caregiver, or by a patient age 7 and older for the self-injection of a desired dose of insulin and for calculating an insulin dose or carbohydrate intake based on user entered data. A healthcare professional must assist in dosage programming of the device prior to use, based on various patient-specific criteria and targets. The InPen™ requires a prescription. For additional product and safety information, please consult the Instructions for Use and bit.ly/InPenRisks.

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