[Side effects of glucocorticosteroids in the management of 1291 patients of SARS]

Beijing Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban. 2004 Oct;36(5):519-24.
[Article in Chinese]


Objective: To analysis the relationship between glucocorticosteroids (GCS) usage and side effects in the treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Methods: All clinical records of probable SARS patients in Beijing were collected and input into an Epi6 database, in which 1 291 patients had entire information and met the clinical criteria of SARS. The usage of GCS and GCS associated side effects were analyzed retrospectively.

Results: Patients accepted GCS therapy were 83.96% (n=1 084), whereas 16.04%(n=207) did not take GCS. The average dosage of GCS was 160 mg/d in the first week, and then reduced to 80 mg/d and 40 mg/d in the second and the third weeks, respectively. Initial blood glucose, systolic pressure (SBP), and diastolic pressure (DBP) were no significant difference between GCS group and non-GCS group. The highest blood glucose during the treatment in GCS group was markedly higher than that in non-GCS group [(8.68+/-4.80) mmol/L vs (6.39+/-3.71) mmol/L, P<0.05)]. The highest blood glucose and average blood glucose after initiation of GCS therapy were elevated in GCS group. The levels of blood glucose were correlated with the initial, maximum, and cumulative GCS dosages. Average blood glucose was increased markedly in groups with MP(Initial) > or =80 mg/d (Methyprednisonlone), MP(Maximal) > or =160 mg/d, or MP(Cumulative) > or = 3000 mg. The blood glucose grew up significantly in the first and the second weeks in the treatment with GCS, and then returned to normal level gradually. Hyperglycemia duration in the group with MP(Cumulative) > or =3000 mg persisted longer than that in the other groups (P< 0.05). The lowest serum potassium during the treatment and the duration of hypokalemia in GCS group were significantly different from that in non-GCS group [(3.66+/-0.50) mmol/L vs (4.01+/-0.51) mmol/L, P< 0.001 ;1(1, 75) days vs 1(1, 9) days, P<0.05, respectively]. Average serum potassium and the duration of hypokalemia were related to the dosages of GCS. Serum potassium reached its nadir in the first week of GCS treatment and then grew up in the second week. In groups with MP(Initial) > or =320 mg/d, MP(Maximal) > or =320 mg/d, and MP(Cumulative) > or =3000 mg, the level of serum potassium was lower and the duration of hypokalemia was longer than that in other groups. They began to returned to normal level in the third week. Administration of GCS prolonged the time of hypocalcemia[19 (1, 74) days in GCS group vs 8 (1, 32) days in non-GCS group, P< 0.05]. The duration of hypocalcemia was prolonged according to the increasing of the maximal or the cumulative dosage of GCS. However, the duration of hypocalcemia in group with MP(Cumulative) <999 mg was similar to that in non-GCS group (P > 0.05). After GCS administration, SBP and DBP were increased gradually, and reached their peaks in the fourth week [SBP(117.2+/-14.0) mm Hg and DBP (72.5+/-9.1) mm Hg vs SBP (120.0+/-12.5) mm Hg and DBP (74.5+/-8.7) mm Hg, P< 0.05, 1 mm Hg=0.133 kPa].

Conclusion: Hyperglycemia and hypokalemia are correlated with GCS dosage and duration. Administration with GCS influences SBP, DBP, and duration of hypocalcemia. Appropriate low dosage of GCS (MP(Initial) and MP(Maximal) < 159 mg/d, MP(Cumulative)< 2999 mg) causes few changes of blood glucose, serum potassium, and blood calcium. It is important to monitor laboratory findings during the treatment with GCS.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects*
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / chemically induced*
  • Hypocalcemia / chemically induced
  • Hypokalemia / chemically induced*
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / adverse effects
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / drug therapy*


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Methylprednisolone