Objective: To review the current literature on glucocorticoid-induced hyperglycemia and provide a strategy for its treatment.
Methods: We undertook an electronic (MEDLINE) and a library review of the existing pertinent literature published from 1950 to March 2009.
Results: Glucocorticoid-induced hyperglycemia is common in patients with and without diabetes. The odds ratio for new-onset diabetes mellitus in patients treated with glucocorticoids ranges from approximately 1.5 to 2.5. Total glucocorticoid dose and duration of therapy are strong predictors of diabetes induction. Other risk factors include age and body mass index. Failure to treat glucocorticoid-induced hyperglycemia is related to the presumed short duration of administration of glucocorticoid treatment and the emphasis on fasting plasma glucose only. Understanding the pharmacodynamics of glucocorticoids can lead to increased recognition and improved treatment of the condition. Recent demonstrations that even shortterm elevations in blood glucose level may be associated with adverse sequelae argue for greater attention to the condition.
Conclusion: Glucocorticoid-induced hyperglycemia is an important clinical finding that, if recognized, can be effectively treated. We propose a relatively simple schema for the proactive management of corticosteroid-induced hyperglycemia that has been effective and easily adaptable to both the inpatient and the outpatient setting.