Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hypoglycemia and seizures

Diabetes patients who are hospitalized for non-critical illnesses, and develop hypoglycemia while hospitalized, are likely to remain hospitalized longer and face greater risk of mortality both during and after hospitalization, according to a study published in the July issue of Diabetes Care.

This retrospective cohort study of more than 4,300 admissions, by researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, was the first to examine mortality risks for hospitalized diabetes patients outside a critical care setting. Previous research found an association between hypoglycemia in ICU patients and an increased risk of morality, seizures and coma.

However, the majority of hospitalized diabetes patients are treated on the general ward. This study found that each hospital day in which a person with diabetes had at least one episode of hypoglycemia was associated with an 85.3 percent increased risk of dying as an inpatient and a 65.8 percent increased risk of dying within one year of discharge. The odds of inpatient death also tripled for every 10 mg/dl decrease in the lowest blood glucose during hospitalization. And, a patient's length of stay increased by 2.5 days for each day spent in the hospital with a hypoglycemia episode.

As a result of these findings, the researchers recommend carefully monitoring people with diabetes admitted to the general ward of the hospital for hypoglycemia and suggest interpreting its appearance as "a warning sign of impending clinical deterioration."

"It could serve as a useful indicator for the necessity of increased monitoring, more aggressive treatment of infections, transitioning to a more intensive care setting, and case management," the study concludes.

To reach lead researcher Dr. Alexander Turchin, Division of Endocrinology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, phone 617-732-5661 or email

Diabetes Care, published by the American Diabetes Association, is the leading peer-reviewed journal of clinical research into one of the nation's leading causes of death by disease. Diabetes also is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke, as well as the leading cause of adult blindness, kidney failure, and non-traumatic amputations.

The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, our mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. For more information, please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.

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Dayle Kern, ADA
(703) 549-1500 ext. 2290


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