Background: About a third of patients with acute stroke and no prior diagnosis of diabetes have hyperglycaemia during the acute phase of stroke. Whether this is an acute stress response or a reflection of underlying diabetes is controversial.
Aim: To assess whether impaired glucose metabolism in patients with acute ischaemic stroke and no previous diagnosis of diabetes persists after 3 months, and whether such persistence can be predicted.
Design: Prospective observational study.
Methods: We enrolled 106 patients with acute ischaemic stroke and no history of diabetes. Fasting blood glucose, serum insulin and the insulin resistance index HOMA were recorded during hospital stay. A standard oral glucose tolerance test was performed at discharge and 3 months later.
Results: Ten patients did not complete the study. Eighty-one patients (84.4%) had abnormal glucose metabolism at discharge and 62 (64.6%) after 3 months. Thirty-seven (38.5%) had impaired glucose tolerance at discharge and 26 (27.1%) after 3 months. Forty-four (45.8%) had diabetes at discharge, and 36 (37.5%) at 3 months. Post-load hyperglycaemia at discharge was a predictor of diabetes after 3 months. A plasma glucose cut-off of 11.7 mmol/l (210 mg/dl) had a specificity of 90.0% and a positive predictive value of 81.3%. HOMA increased progressively from patients with normal glucose metabolism to those with newly diagnosed diabetes.
Discussion: Impaired glucose tolerance and previously unrecognized diabetes could be detected early in the stroke course, and persisted after 3 months in more than two-thirds of our patients. Post-load hyperglycaemia during the acute phase of stroke may be useful in identifying patients with abnormal glucose metabolism, which places them at risk for adverse outcomes, including cardiovascular disease.