Hypoglycemia May Raise Risk of Death in ICU Patients

FRIDAY March 19, 2010 -- Mild to moderate hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) increases the risk of death in critically ill patients, a new study shows.

It included 4,946 critically ill patients at six medical centers in Australia, Japan and New Zealand. Of those patients, 1,109 experienced hypoglycemia while the remainder served as a non-hypoglycemic control group.

It had been believed that mild to moderate hypoglycemia was clinically unimportant. But this study found that patients with hypoglycemia had a death rate of 36.6 percent, compared with 19.7 percent for those without hypoglycemia.

"Even after the adjustment for insulin therapy or timing of hypoglycemic episode, the more severe the hypoglycemia, the greater the risk of death," study co-investigator Dr. Rinaldo Bellomo, of Austin Health in Melbourne, said in a news release.

"Our results suggest that any tolerance of mild to moderate hypoglycemia by intensive care clinicians may be undesirable. In this regard, newer technologies such as continuous glucose monitoring in the ICU setting might help avoid hypoglycemia or identify it earlier," Bellomo said.

The study appears in the March issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about hypoglycemia.

Posted: March 2010


View comments

Hide
(web1)