Stress-induced hyperglycemia in patients with severe sepsis: a compromising factor for survival

Am J Med Sci. 2008 Dec;336(6):467-71. doi: 10.1097/MAJ.0b013e318176abb4.


Objective: To study the clinical and laboratory characteristics of patients with severe sepsis and baseline hyperglycemia and investigate the impact of hyperglycemia on the final outcome.

Patients: A total of 265 patients admitted with severe sepsis in 3 major hospitals in South-Western Greece, during a 1-year period, were included in the study. Patients were divided in 3 groups according to their glycemic profile at admission: patients with stress hyperglycemia (group SH, n=47), with diabetes mellitus (group DM, n=65), and with normal glucose level (group NG, n=153). Hyperglycemia was defined as an admission or in-hospital fasting glucose level of >or=126 mg/dL or a random blood glucose level of >or=200 mg/dL on >or=2 determinations.

Results: A total of 42.2% of patients with severe sepsis had baseline hyperglycemia with 17.7% having sepsis-induced stress hyperglycemia. No family history was noted in the SH group. A higher percentage of septic patients with stress hyperglycemia died compared with patients with normal glucose levels (42.5% versus 13.7%) and diabetics (42.5% versus 24.6%). Group DM had also a poorer prognosis than group NG (24.6% versus 13.7%). A positive correlation was detected between the fasting blood glucose levels of group SH and the severity of sepsis indicated by sepsis-related organ failure assessment score.

Conclusion: Baseline hyperglycemia, including stress-induced hyperglycemia, is common in patients with severe sepsis. Stress-induced hyperglycemia is related to a more severe disease and poorer prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sepsis / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Physiological*
  • Survival Rate