Aims: To investigate the relationships between a known history of diabetes and ambient fasting plasma glucose (FPG) levels with death and morbidity rates in patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Methods: In this retrospective analysis, the clinical and biochemical characteristics of 135 patients who had died from SARS, 385 survivors of SARS and 19 patients with non-SARS pneumonia were compared.
Results: All patients were treated according to a predefined protocol. Before steroid treatment, the mean FPG level was significantly higher in the SARS group (deceased vs. survivors vs. non-SARS pneumonia group: 9.7 +/- 5.2 vs. 6.5 +/- 3.0 vs. 5.1 +/- 1.0 mmol/l, P < 0.01). In the SARS group, the percentage of patients with a known history of diabetes was significantly higher in the deceased patients than in the survivors (21.5% vs. 3.9%, P < 0.01). Among patients with no known history of diabetes and before commencement of steroid therapy, those who had hypoxaemia (SaO(2) < 93%) had higher FPG levels than those who did not have hypoxia in both the survivor (8.7 +/- 4.9 vs. 6.3 +/- 2.1 mmol/l, P < 0.001) and deceased (9.8 +/- 4.8 vs. 7.2 +/- 1.5 mmol/l, P < 0.001) groups. A known history of diabetes [odds ratio (OR) 3.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.4, 6.3; P = 0.005] and FPG > or = 7.0 mmol/l before steroid treatment (OR 3.3, 95% CI 1.4, 7.7, P = 0.006) were independent predictors of death. During the course of the illness, FPG levels were negatively associated with SaO(2) (beta =-0.682 +/- 0.305, P = 0.025, general estimation equation model) in SARS patients. Survival analysis showed that FPG was independently associated with an increased hazard ratio (HR) of mortality (HR = 1.1, 95% CI 1.0, 1.1, P = 0.001) and hypoxia (HR = 1.1, 95% CI 1.0, 1.1, P = 0.002) after controlling for age and gender.
Conclusions: A known history of diabetes and ambient hyperglycaemia were independent predictors for death and morbidity in SARS patients. Metabolic control may improve the prognosis of SARS patients.