Monday, 10 March 2014

MyStar Extra: The first home HbA1c device in the UK

When Menarini stopped manufacturing their home HbA1c testing kits at the end of 2012, I was gutted.  I deal with blood tests the way a cat deals with the hoover: through a mixture of hiding, hissing, and eventual submission.  So being able to check my HbA1c every few months by simply squishing a large drop of blood onto a piece of gauze and sending it off for a lab-standard result, meant it wasn't so naughty of me to put off my annual blood tests until the 'tow the line, Presswell' letters started arriving from my clinic.

When I was invited to attend a symposium for Sanofi's new Blood glucose monitor, the MyStar Extra, which claimed to have an on-board A1C calculator, I was just a little bit excited.  As well as offering a swish looking machine, the on-board A1c calculator can be done by following a few simple steps.

1) Set up a profile day.  

This is the process of taking a full profile of seven blood tests throughout the day, at certain times. These are before 11:00 'fasting' test, followed by a further post-breakfast test by 11:00 (so it's a good idea to make your fasting test before 09:00 to give time for the post-meal test).  Then a pre-lunch and post-lunch test between 11:00 and 15:59 (again, a pre-lunch test of before 13:00 gives time for the second test). The pre-dinner and post dinner between 16:00 and 20:59 (again, a pre-dinner test of around 18:00 allows time for the post-dinner test).  Finally the bedtime test of 21:00 - 23:59.  This is called your 'profile day', and by selecting the 'tick' button on the machine, you have now set up your profile.

2)  Fasting blood results.

Once your profile day is up and running, conduct six more fasting blood test results and BAM! You're done.  You're estimated HbA1c result is ready to be viewed!

So, the big question is, how accurate is it?  

Conveniently, two weeks before my MyStar Extra glucose arrived I had my yearly hissy-fit blood
panel done, so now would be a great time to test-drive the system.  I was convinced my result would have gone up after a chaotic few months, but the lab result was the same as last year - 6.6% (49mmol in 'new money').

I eagerly awaited the result of first MyStar A1c test.  


...6.8% (51 mmol, in new money). Pretty darn close, if you take into account the two-week gap and the fact I did the profile day on the same day I went to my local legendary high tea parlour, giving slightly skewed results.  And plenty good enough to help me keep a monthly eye on my A1c along the way.  

As with many things, there is one small down side: the limited A1c calculator range. As someone aiming for pregnancy-perfect A1cs so that Jamie and I might bring our own nappy-factory into this world, I need to aim to get my A1c under 6% to ensure my risk of complications during pregnancy are reduced.  Having scoured through the guidance manual, it seems that the A1c calculator will only go as low as 6%, until you just get the warning 'A4'.  On the plus side, a result of A4 will tell me my A1c is now below 6% (or above 10!) but still, it is this level of accuracy I need to aim for in the next year or so, so it is somewhat disappointing that levels lower than 6% won't be reported. Of course, it hasn't been tested on pregnant people yet so using it so would be entirely off-label.

That said, to have an at-my-fingertips chance to get an estimated A1c in between visits to the clinic is a god-send. It means I have that extra tool in the diabetes arsenal and means I have another way to feel empowered over, and in control of, my condition.

All in all, a big thumbs up!


  1. This looks pretty awesome! Thanks for the review! Now excuse me while I drool over here in the US.

    1. Woooah! Sorry for the super slow reply! Sadly the FDA seems to take longer to agree things than they take to become outdated. But I really hope this will come to your shores very soon!