Prolonged sulfonylurea-induced hypoglycemia in diabetic patients with end-stage renal disease

Am J Kidney Dis. 2000 Mar;35(3):500-5. doi: 10.1016/s0272-6386(00)70204-6.


Renal impairment is a recognized risk factor for prolonged hypoglycemia, but predisposing characteristics in patients with advanced renal impairment have not been studied. We observed prolonged hypoglycemia in a number of patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and conducted a case-control study at two Canadian centers to identify such risk factors. Through hospital, pharmacy, and dialysis program records, we retrospectively identified 7 case patients and 31 controls with ESRD and type 2 diabetes using oral hypoglycemic monotherapy. Control patients had no history of hospital admission for prolonged hypoglycemia. All case patients and 28 controls were receiving glyburide (glibenclamide in Europe); the remainder were treated with tolbutamide. Duration of intravenous treatment for hypoglycemia ranged from 28 to 256 hours, with 83 g to 2 kg of glucose administered per episode. Preceding treatment with glyburide varied from 2 days to 13 years. Univariate analyses showed a recent decline in oral intake (odds ratio [OR], 81; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.6 to 1,840), previous hypoglycemic episodes (OR, 15; 95% CI, 0.77 to 297), longer duration of diabetes (22 versus 12 years; P = 0.008), and a history of cerebrovascular disease (OR, 7. 0; 95% CI, 1.0 to 47) to be associated with prolonged hypoglycemia. No association between prolonged hypoglycemia and age, sex, beta blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, oral hypoglycemic dose, or duration of treatment was identified. This study describes the potentially devastating effect of sulfonylurea-based oral hypoglycemic therapy in ESRD. Patients at greatest risk appear to be those with reduced intake, previous hypoglycemic episodes, and longer duration of diabetes. We describe the mechanisms for observed hypoglycemia and suggest that alternative drugs may be considered in this patient group.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes Complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / etiology*
  • Hypoglycemia / physiopathology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds / adverse effects*


  • Sulfonylurea Compounds