Frequency and risk factors of severe hypoglycaemia in insulin-treated Type 2 diabetes: a cross-sectional survey

Diabet Med. 2006 Jul;23(7):750-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2006.01880.x.


Aims: The reported risk of severe hypoglycaemia in insulin-treated Type 2 diabetes is highly variable and few studies have evaluated the influence of risk factors. We assessed the incidence and the influence of potential risk factors for severe hypoglycaemia in a questionnaire survey in subjects with insulin-treated Type 2 diabetes receiving currently recommended multifactorial intervention.

Methods: Consecutive patients with insulin-treated Type 2 diabetes (n = 401) completed a questionnaire about occurrence of hypoglycaemia in the past, hypoglycaemia awareness and socio-demographic factors. A zero-inflated negative binomial model was used to assess the influence of potential risk factors on the rate of severe hypoglycaemia.

Results: The overall incidence of severe hypoglycaemia in the preceding year was 0.44 episodes/person year. Sixty-six (16.5%) patients had experienced at least one event. The risk of any episode of severe hypoglycaemia positively correlated with impaired hypoglycaemia awareness, being married and long duration of diabetes. The risk of repeated episodes of severe hypoglycaemia positively correlated with the presence of peripheral neuropathy, while long duration of diabetes prior to insulin treatment and treatment with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor antagonists (ARBs) were associated with reduced risk. C-peptide concentration and HbA1c were not associated with the risk of severe hypoglycaemia.

Conclusions: In this cohort of insulin-treated Type 2 diabetic patients, the incidence of severe hypoglycaemia is higher than reported in most studies, corresponding to about one-third of that in Type 1 diabetes. Impaired hypoglycaemia awareness is the most important risk factor for severe hypoglycaemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Attitude to Health
  • C-Peptide / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / epidemiology*
  • Hypoglycemia / etiology
  • Hypoglycemia / psychology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Incidence
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Angiotensin / therapeutic use
  • Risk Factors


  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • C-Peptide
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Receptors, Angiotensin