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HOW DOES
AN INSULIN PUMP WORK?

An insulin pump is a small electronic device, about the size of a smartphone, that can be easily carried on a belt, inside a pocket, or attached to a bra and so virtually invisible to others. The device is attached to your body via a thin tube called an Infusion Set, through which insulin is delivered.  This makes insulin pump therapy very discreet.  An insulin pump replaces the need for frequent injections by delivering rapid acting insulin continuously 24 hours a day.

Medtronic's latest pump available in the UK is called the MiniMed™ 640G Insulin Pump.

PUMP TERMINOLOGY

Basal rate

This is the small amount of insulin that your insulin pump continuously gives you. Your pre-programmed rate is determined by your own body's needs and programmed by your healthcare professional. Because the quantity can be more precise and the rates can be customised e.g. can very each hour if need be, an insulin pump can mimic a healthy pancreas more closely.

Bolus rate

Additional insulin can be delivered “on demand” to match the food you are going to eat or to correct a high blood sugar. Insulin pumps have bolus calculators that help you calculate your bolus amount based on settings that are pre-determined by your healthcare professional and again based on your individual needs.

COMPONENTS OF INSULIN PUMP THERAPY

 

1. INSULIN PUMP

A small durable electronic device. The MiniMed™ 640G insulin pump features:

  • Buttons to program your insulin and navigate through the menu
  • LCD colour screen to show what you are programming
  • Battery compartment to hold 1 AA alkaline battery
  • Reservoir compartment 

2. INFUSION SET

An infusion set includes a thin tube that goes from the reservoir to the infusion site on your body. It is placed into the same sites (areas) on your body where you would normally give your insulin injections. The infusion set is changed every two to three days. There is a wide range of MiniMed™ infusion sets available (cannula type, cannula length and tubing length) to meet your individual needs and preferences.

3. RESERVOIR

A plastic cartridge that holds the insulin that is locked into the insulin pump. A reservoir can hold up to 300 units of insulin and is changed every two to three days when you change the infusion set. The MiniMed™ reservoirs have been designed to make filling a quick and convenient process. We have 2 different reservoir sizes available.

HOW DOES A PUMP DELIVER INSULIN TO YOUR BODY?

The insulin pump has a compartment that holds a reservoir that is filled with insulin. From the pump's reservoir insulin travels along a thin tube and "infused" into your body through an infusion set which is inserted into your skin. The infusion set contains a small cannula which is sits just under the skin. The pump and tubing can easily disconnect and reconnect to your body whenever you want to. This can be helpful, for example when you want to shower or play sports.

 

  1. Tubing: carries insulin from the pump to you
  2. Reservoir Connector: end of the tubing that attaches the reservoir which holds the insulin
  3. Inserting Site Section: other end of the tubing that attaches to you
  4. Cannula: tiny flexible tube places into your body** by the insertion needle included in the insertion site section
  5. Adhesive: holds the infusion set in place
  6. Reservoir Compartment: part of the pump where the reservoir fits

 

You should replace both the infusion set and the reservoir every 2 to 3 days.

*Mio infusion set shown in illustration.
**Some infusion sets do not use a cannula but have a small needle that remains inserted in the body.

What are the benefits of insulin pump therapy?

Insulin pump therapy can offer many clinical benefits over multiple daily injections1,2 including:

  • better HbA1c control
  • fewer hypoglycaemic events
  • reduction in glycaemic variability

 

An insulin pump also has other advantages that can help you to manage day to day life more easily. For example using a bolus calculator to help you work out accurate boluses, and the ability to set up different basal 'patterns' for work days or holidays.

IS INSULIN PUMP THERAPY RIGHT FOR ME?

Many people with Type 1 diabetes may benefit from an insulin pump without even knowing it. In general if they experience any of the following, they could achieve better control with an insulin pump:

  • Fear of needles
  • Difficulty in managing highs and lows
  • Fear of hypoglycaemia, especially at night
  • HbA1c outside target range
  • Reduced hypoglycaemia awareness
  • Concerns about long-term complications
  • Seeking more flexibility in everyday life

 

Talk to your diabetes healthcare professional about insulin pump therapy and whether it may be right for you.

You can learn more about living with a pump and the benefits of pump therapy by reading our patient stories or playing the below video to hear from MiniMed™ 640G inslulin pump users.

READ PATIENT STORIES