Hyperglycemia increasingly a cause of death in ICU patients

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 3, 2006

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A study of 216,000 critically ill patients in Veterans Affairs hospitals demonstrated that hyperglycemia is associated with increased death in patients in intensive care units. The study was presented June 12 at the American Diabetes Assn.'s Annual Scientific Sessions in Washington, D.C.

"The increased deaths associated with hyperglycemia in intensive care units was highest in those without diagnosed diabetes and in those admitted with cardiovascular disorders, such as heart attacks, unstable angina and strokes," said lead author Mercedes Falciglia, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

In the study, hyperglycemia was found to be an independent predictor of mortality starting at only 1 milligram per deciliter above normal glucose levels. The impact of high blood glucose levels was variable but increased death to as high as 14 times that which would be expected in stroke patients with the highest blood glucose levels.

The bottom line is that "All patients should have their blood glucose levels monitored when they are admitted to an intensive care unit because hyperglycemia occurs in one-third of ICU patients," Dr. Falciglia said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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