Hypoglycemia in the intensive care unit

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To review recent articles and evaluate hypoglycemia as a major complication of intensive insulin therapy in anticipation of emerging data from current clinical studies. RECENT FINDINGS: Following the 2001 landmark Leuven study demonstrating that intensive insulin therapy in the surgical intensive care unit reduces mortality, many studies have evaluated aspects of intensive insulin therapy with respect to improved clinical outcome and the impact of hypoglycemia. Specific risk factors for hypoglycemia in the intensive care unit with intensive insulin therapy are diabetes, octreotide therapy, nutrition support, continuous venovenous hemofiltration with bicarbonate replacement fluid, sepsis and need for inotropic support. In prospective studies with a comparator group, the incidence of hypoglycemia in intensive care unit patients treated with intensive insulin therapy is up to 25%, corresponding to a relative risk of 5.0. In studies without a comparator group, however, the incidence is less than 7%. SUMMARY: Hypoglycemia is associated with adverse outcome in intensive care unit patients. It remains unclear whether intensive insulin therapy-induced hypoglycemia per se is responsible for this adverse outcome. The threat of hypoglycemia is a barrier to intensive insulin therapy in critical care, supporting the need for frequent glucose monitoring, readily available concentrated intravenous dextrose infusions, better training of nurses and technological advances in glucose-sensing and insulin-dosing algorithms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-196
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Critical illness
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Hypoglycemia
  • ICU
  • Intensive insulin therapy


Dive into the research topics of 'Hypoglycemia in the intensive care unit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this