Intense exercise is a major challenge to the management of type 1 diabetes (T1D). Closed-loop control (CLC) systems (artificial pancreas) improve glycemic control during limited intensity and short duration of physical activity (PA). However, CLC has not been tested during extended vigorous outdoor exercise common among adolescents.
Skiing presents unique metabolic challenges: intense prolonged PA, cold, altitude, and stress/fear/excitement. In a randomized controlled trial, 32 adolescents with T1D (ages 10–16 years) participated in a 5-day ski camp (~5 h skiing/day) at two sites: Wintergreen, VA, and Breckenridge, CO. Participants were randomized to the University of Virginia CLC system or remotely monitored sensor-augmented pump (RM-SAP). The CLC and RM-SAP groups were coarsely paired by age and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). All subjects were remotely monitored 24 h per day by the study physicians and clinical team.
Compared with physician-monitored open loop, percent time in range (70–180 mg/dL) improved using CLC: 71.3 vs. 64.7% (+6.6% [95% CI 1–12]; P = 0.005), with maximum effect late at night. Hypoglycemia exposure and carbohydrate treatments were improved overall (P = 0.001 and P = 0.007) and during the daytime with strong ski level effects (P = 0.0001 and P = 0.006); ski/snowboard proficiency was balanced between groups but with a very strong site effect: naive in Virginia and experienced in Colorado. There was no adverse event associated with CLC; the participants’ feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
CLC in adolescents with T1D improved glycemic control and reduced exposure to hypoglycemia during prolonged intensive winter sport activities, despite the added challenges of cold and altitude.