Dexcom Seven Plus vs. Freestyle Navigator


Abbott finally stepped up to the plate on Thursday & offered customers money back if they wanted to return their Freestyle Navigator and get another system.  The day after Abbott came out with their offer, Dexcom came out with a special deal for Navigator users.  I had already started the process for getting a Dexcom and was just crossing my fingers that it would not be too much of a fight with my insurance company to get it.  I called Dexcom about the deal.  They had received the paperwork from my doctor that very day so all they need from me is the money.  As soon as I get my money from Abbott, my Dexcom will be ready to ship.  Abbott promised a quick turnaround, so I hope they keep that promise.  I have been without a CGMS for 10 weeks now so am anxious to get started on the Dex.  The Dexcom deal was $541 less than what my insurance paid for the Navigator, so my insurance should be happy to get money back for a change! 

I did a one week trial of the Dexcom and I really like it. There are a lot of Navigator users trying to decide if they should take the offer or wait things out.  Of course everyone is looking at pluses & minuses between the Dexcom & the Freestyle Navigator.

There were only 2 ½ things that I liked better about the Freestyle Navigator. The first one is the distance. I was used to being able to set the Freestyle Navigator down and walk to another room without losing connection. I had trouble with the Dexcom losing connection even in the same room. I am not one to wear belts much so I am going to get one of those Spibelts and that will solve that problem.

The second thing that I like better about the Freestyle Navigator is that Tylenol can mess up your readings with the Dexcom. I don’t take much Tylenol, but really don’t want that option taken away from me either. The morning I started the Dex trial, I woke up with a killer headache.  I didn’t want to take Tylenol that morning because I wanted to get a true picture of the Dex. I survived that day, so I guess I can live without my 20 Tylenol pills a year! 

The ½ thing that I liked better about the Freestyle Navigator was the ability to get actual numbers on the receiver. It was nice to be able to wake up and remember you had a low or high in the middle of the night and look to see how low or high you actually went. I guess the bean counter in me prefers actual numbers over graphs, but since the rest of the world prefers graphs over numbers, I should get used to it!

The alarms on the Dexcom are far more superior than the Freestyle Navigator. The high on the Freestyle Navigator cannot be set lower than 140. On the Dexcom, you can set it at 120. I don’t like waking up in the morning in the 130s or 140s so that makes a big difference to me.

Also, the Freestyle Navigator beeps at you every 15 minutes when you are out of range. There is a mute button but there is an issue with that going into indefinite mute so I did not want to do that. If you change your alarm settings, then you have to worry about remembering to change them back or falling asleep and waking up high because you did that. With the Dexcom, you can pick how often you want to be reminded. When my BS goes high, it takes about 20 minutes before my insulin even starts kicking in so I don’t need to be reminded every 15 minutes that I am high.

I was concerned about losing the predictive alarms that the Freestyle Navigator has. What I did not realize was that the Dexcom has rapid rise & fall rates that you can set for either 2 or 3 mg/dl per minute. That is actually nicer than the Freestyle Navigator’s predictive alarms. The Freestyle Navigator looks at your high & low settings to calculate if you are gong to hit that threshold. On the Dexcom, if you have your low alarms set for 70 but your blood sugar starts dropping rapidly when you are at 200, it will alert you that your blood sugar is dropping fast. I liked that a lot better because you actually got more warning for rapidly moving blood sugars.

Another nice feature with the Dexcom was when it beeps that you are out of range, the screen lights up and says high or low. The buttons that you have to push also light up. That made it really nice at night when it was dark to just pick it up and be able to see what was going on and hit the right buttons without having to turn a light on to see. On the Freestyle Navigator, you had to hit a button to get the backlight to come on. On several occasions, I was trying to find the right buttons to hit in the dark and actually disabled my alarms. That won’t happen on the Dex.

I know one big complaint people have about the Freestyle Navigator is the size. I previously said that the size doesn’t matter to me but I am retracting that. Size really does matter! Even with all the talk I have heard about the size, I was really surprised to see just how small the Dexcom was. When you put the Freestyle Navigator transmitter next to the Dexcom, it reminded me of the picture I have with my Yorkie next to my brother’s Great Dane.

I had a ton of holes in my arms from the Freestyle Navigator. Originally, I planned on using the same arm but because of the holes, I started rotating arms. Even when I went to change sensors, I still had holes in the arm that I pulled the prior sensor off of days before. When I took the Dexcom out, I had a tiny, tiny little mark and that disappeared quickly. After going thru a very nasty foot infection, I am a little paranoid about germs. Those holes in my arms left an opening for germs to get in.

On a couple occasions, the plastic sensor mount for the Freestyle Navigator cut into my arm. One night in particular, I woke up in the middle of the night with pain where the sensor was. I decided to rip it off and there was an outline dug into my skin from where the mount had cut into my arm. That took several weeks to heal. I know that if I sleep wrong with the Dexcom, that would also happen, but since the Dexcom is so much smaller, it won’t be as big of an area to heal.

I also had several occasions when I put a new Freestyle Navigator sensor on that I had a lot of bleeding and ended up taking the sensor off because there was so much blood. Since I only did a one week trial with the Dexcom, I don’t have enough experience with that to know if that will happen or not, but since the Dexcom sensor is so tiny, I don’t expect much of a problem with that.

 With the Dexcom, you can use whatever meter you want to do your calibrations.  With the Navigator, you had to use Freestyle strips.  Some people will not like that they have to take an extra meter with them if they want to do either readings or calibrations, but I never trusted the Navigator 100% and always took my meter anyway so that was not a big deal for me.

And of course one of the best things about Dexcom is that I have never seen anything about Dex users having to wait over two months for replacements. Since Abbott has now done this same thing two years in a row, anyone that continues to use the Freestyle Navigator has to wonder when the next time this will happen again.

UPDATE:  I wanted to attach this same update to a couple of the posts about Abbott Diabetes Care.  I did not want to add a whole new post because I want the Dexcom vs. Navigator comparison post to remain on the main page.

On Thursday, April 8th, I accepted Abbott’s offer of $2k for the Navigator.  I was told that they would FedEx me two labels – one for the return of the Navigator & the other for the return of the sensors.  My FedEx package showed up today (Monday, April 12th) with only one label for the return of the Navigator.  It had a paper for me to sign accepting the $2k and I could get that with 90 days worth of test strips or without the test strips.  No mention of the sensors.  I called Abbott immediately and asked to talk to a supervisor.  She told me that the sensor offer was coming separately but could not tell me when.  I will not return the Navigator without something in writing about the sensors – I have $5,125 worth of those and any deal with Abbott has to include that money.  It looks like I was screwed again by Abbott Diabetes Care and I will be sitting here waiting to get a Dexcom because Abbott screwed me.
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11 thoughts on “Dexcom Seven Plus vs. Freestyle Navigator

  1. I have been wearing the Dexcom for about Two years. I have tried the rest and there is no sense in trying the rest. Dexcom is by far the best. The others are a waste of time and do not compare to the dexcom!

  2. The only warning here is that Dexcomm is always trying to chisel every for everything. I bought the original CGM they offered (3-day) then upgraded to the 7 and then tried to upgrade to the 7+ but I missed the window to get the cheap upgrade so they wanted me to buy the whole system from scratch. They also charge for the firmware updates!!

    I can’t get my insurance to pay for this so I pay cash. The cost of incidentals is also climbing quite fast. The cost of the sites for the 7 was more than double the cost of the sites for the original. They used to give you a discount for paying cash now they don’t and they have raised the site cost by something like 10% in the last 6 months.

    So if your insurance pays for it go for it. If not just know this is one of those deals where you are going to get stuck a lot. Don’t believe the propaganda either. If you get welts from you pump (I do) you will get them from your CGM site as well. IMHO this small price to pay for the added control and early warning that a CGM buys you.

    • Having been a bean counter prior to getting sick, I don’t see how Dexcom is chiseling for anything. Any company that introduces upgrades to products usually has a price increase along with that upgrade. I know that Dexcom is currently working on the Gen4 sensors which will bring even more accuracy to the Dexcom. Research and development cost money and as consumers, some of that cost will be passed along to us. It is not Dexcom’s fault that you missed the cutoff date for the cheaper upgrade. Companies cannot leave offers open indefinitely

      I don’t have experience with the prior Dexcom systems, but someone that posts on the ADA message board does. She quit using the Seven system and eventually switched over to the Navigator. When her Navigator died, she accepted the Seven Plus kicking and screaming and thought of it as a temporary solution. She posted last night that she was not having the problems she experienced with the Seven and she plans on keeping the Seven Plus.

      As far as welts from the Dexcom sensors, mine are generally gone by the next day if I have any. I do use the pump and I currently have a huge hole that has been there since last week. When I used the Navigator, I rotated arms every 5 days when I changed those sensors. I frequently had 2 or 3 holes in each of arms before they finally closed up. So yes, the Dexcom sensors are a lot easier to deal with “hole” wise!

      Anytime that I have had a problem and contacted Dexcom, their customer service has been excellent. When I called Abbott about a problem with the Navigator, I felt like I needed to take a bottle of blood pressure pills before calling. Any problems I have had with a sensor,.Dexcom has replaced it free of charge.

      The only upgrade Minimed has had to their system is if you buy a pump to get the upgraded CGMS. My Navigator broke in Jan and Abbott still has everything on backorder in Aug and are saying not before Dec to those waiting on replacements. Thanks, but I will take my Dexcom that actually cares about their customers and is striving to make something good even better!

  3. Hi Kelly. Did you ever receive a refund for the Nav sensors? I have several and they’re expired so wondering if they refund those too?? Thanks!

    • Hi Marie,

      Yes I did get my refund back from Abbott. If you are sitting on a Navigator waiting for a replacement, they should refund your money for those expired sensors – it is not your fault that you can’t use them. I would call the number they had setup for the refunds. I am hearing on different message boards that it might be December until they are able to replace broken ones.

  4. Hi Kelly, Good thorough report and I agree with everything that you have said. The Dex is really agreeing with us too and we are full steam ahead to get one of her own after this trial!

    • Thanks Mary! I am looking forward to getting started on the Dex. Hopefully, you can get yours ASAP also and won’t have too much of a gap between the trial and getting your own.

  5. Thanks Anna! If I had started with the Dex and wasn’t used to the freedom of being able to move around with the Navigator, it might not have bothered me as much. I was worried about the Dex only doing readings every 5 minutes as opposed to the 1 minute with the Navigator because my BS drops so fast, but I didn’t have problems the week I did the trial – hopefully, it stays that way! The Seven Plus has an alarm to notify you if you walk (or roll!) out of range of the receiver now so that helps in staying connected. Most of the times that it did disconnect, it only took a few minutes to reconnect. But on the plus side for the Navigator, there was a reconnect button you could hit to get connected right away.

    I did hear about the Dexcom/Animas combo pump but I heard after the beginning of the year. I am anxious to get started on the pump & want to start that process as soon as the Dex ships – call me impatient! It took me a long time to get to this point, so I don’t want to change my mind if I wait too long. They will have an upgrade offer so I will be able to upgrade to the comined unit if I want to.

  6. Great bit of writing Kelly – have been spreading the word around of yours and other problems with getting supplies for your Navigator CGMS to work.
    I know I’ve heard from a few who do like the Nav over the Dex 7 – but like you say – if you can overlook some of the things that aren’t as good (e.g. 5′ as opposed to 10′) and also kept disconnecting if they even just went from bedroom to bathroom without the receiver being clipped to belt. They found this too restrictive (and they wear a pump as well). The biggest problem though was the accuracy (they did a trial run of Dex 7 Plus), it just did not measure up to the Nav sensor’s consistent accuracy and the readings every 5 minutes as opposed to 1 minute did leave a lot of missed info if you became disconnected. Since it takes 10-15 minutes for Dex to reconnect whereas the Nav rarely disconnects and when it does it alarms you and it takes a maximun of 70 seconds to get back to graphing. The Dex they found doesn’t let you know you are disconnected so it was a pain to “discover” it and then have to wait so long to see what the BG was. Maybe they have made further improvements since then.
    BTW, I’ve heard thru’ the grapevine that this Fall Animas / Dex 7 are joining together – so if you are thinking of going on a pump – maybe wait until then.

    • I wanted to reply here about the fact that the Dex WILL tell you when you are disconnected. You can even set how long you want the notification to be. We set it at 20 min. I think that you may be confused that you won’t get an alarm if you are getting??? Melissa has only become disconnected once that I know of, but It only took a couple of minutes to start reading her again, and you don’t have to do anything to make that happen.

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