Data-driven blood glucose pattern classification and anomalies detection: Machine-learning applications in type 1 diabetes

Ashenafi Zebene Woldaregay, Eirik Årsand, Taxiarchis Botsis, David Albers, Lena Mamykina, Gunnar Hartvigsen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder that results in abnormal blood glucose (BG) regulations. The BG level is preferably maintained close to normality through self-management practices, which involves actively tracking BG levels and taking proper actions including adjusting diet and insulin medications. BG anomalies could be defined as any undesirable reading because of either a precisely known reason (normal cause variation) or an unknown reason (special cause variation) to the patient. Recently, machine-learning applications have been widely introduced within diabetes research in general and BG anomaly detection in particular. However, irrespective of their expanding and increasing popularity, there is a lack of up-to-date reviews that materialize the current trends in modeling options and strategies for BG anomaly classification and detection in people with diabetes. Objective: This review aimed to identify, assess, and analyze the state-of-the-art machine-learning strategies and their hybrid systems focusing on BG anomaly classification and detection including glycemic variability (GV), hyperglycemia, and hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetes within the context of personalized decision support systems and BG alarm events applications, which are important constituents for optimal diabetes self-management. Methods: A rigorous literature search was conducted between September 1 and October 1, 2017, and October 15 and November 5, 2018, through various Web-based databases. Peer-reviewed journals and articles were considered. Information from the selected literature was extracted based on predefined categories, which were based on previous research and further elaborated through brainstorming. Results: The initial results were vetted using the title, abstract, and keywords and retrieved 496 papers. After a thorough assessment and screening, 47 articles remained, which were critically analyzed. The interrater agreement was measured using a Cohen kappa test, and disagreements were resolved through discussion. The state-of-the-art classes of machine learning have been developed and tested up to the task and achieved promising performance including artificial neural network, support vector machine, decision tree, genetic algorithm, Gaussian process regression, Bayesian neural network, deep belief network, and others. Conclusions: Despite the complexity of BG dynamics, there are many attempts to capture hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia incidences and the extent of an individual’s GV using different approaches. Recently, the advancement of diabetes technologies and continuous accumulation of self-collected health data have paved the way for popularity of machine learning in these tasks. According to the review, most of the identified studies used a theoretical threshold, which suffers from inter- and intrapatient variation. Therefore, future studies should consider the difference among patients and also track its temporal change over time. Moreover, studies should also give more emphasis on the types of inputs used and their associated time lag. Generally, we foresee that these developments might encourage researchers to further develop and test these systems on a large-scale basis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere11030
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Anomalies detection
  • Blood glucose dynamics
  • Machine learning
  • Type 1 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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