Prevalence and predictors of corticosteroid-related hyperglycemia in hospitalized patients

Endocr Pract. 2006 Jul-Aug;12(4):358-62. doi: 10.4158/EP.12.4.358.


Objective: To investigate the prevalence of and risk factors for hyperglycemia in hospitalized patients receiving corticosteroids, which have been identified as an independent predictor of hyperglycemia.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of electronic medical records of patients admitted to the general medicine service at a university hospital during a 1-month period. Pharmacy charges were used to identify patients receiving high doses (> or = 40 mg/day of prednisone or the equivalent) of corticosteroids for at least 2 days. Occurrence of hyperglycemia and the presence of risk factors, including history of diabetes, duration of corticosteroid therapy, concurrent parenteral nutrition, antibiotic therapy, use of medications associated with hyperglycemia, severity of illness scores, and hospital length of stay, were determined. Patients experiencing multiple episodes of hyperglycemia (glucose levels > or = 200 mg/dL) were compared with those who had < or = 1 hyperglycemic episode. Patients without a history of diabetes were assessed separately.

Results: During the 1-month study period, 66 of 617 patients received high doses of corticosteroids, but only 50 of the 66 had glucose measurements. Hyperglycemia was documented in 32 of these 50 patients (64%), and multiple hyperglycemic episodes occurred in 26 (52%). A history of diabetes was documented in 12 of 26 patients who experienced multiple episodes, in comparison with 4 of 24 patients with < or = 1 episode of hyperglycemia (P = 0.035). Among patients without a history of diabetes, 19 of 34 (56%) had hyperglycemia at least once. Patients with multiple episodes of hyperglycemia had more comorbid diseases, longer duration of corticosteroid therapy, and longer duration of hospital stay.

Conclusion: Hyperglycemia occurs in a majority of hospitalized patients receiving high doses of corticosteroids. In light of the poor outcomes associated with hyperglycemia, protocols targeting its detection and management should be available for patients who receive corticosteroid therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects*
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Diabetes Complications / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / chemically induced*
  • Hyperglycemia / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones