Introduction: In critical illness, the association of hypoglycemia, blood glucose (BG) variability and outcome are not well understood. We describe the incidence, clinical factors and outcomes associated with an early hypoglycemia and BG variability in critically ill patients.
Methods: Retrospective interrogation of prospectively collected data from the Australia New Zealand Intensive Care Society Adult Patient Database on 66184 adult admissions to 24 intensive care units (ICUs) from 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2005. Primary exposure was hypoglycemia (BG < 4.5 mmol/L) and BG variability (BG < 4.5 and >or= 12.0 mmol/L) within 24 hours of admission. Primary outcome was all-cause mortality.
Results: The cumulative incidence of hypoglycemia and BG variability were 13.8% (95% confidence interval (CI) = 13.5 to 14.0; n = 9122) and 2.9% (95%CI = 2.8 to 3.0, n = 1913), respectively. Several clinical factors were associated with both hypoglycemia and BG variability including: co-morbid disease (P < 0.001), non-elective admissions (P < 0.001), higher illness severity (P < 0.001), and primary septic diagnosis (P < 0.001). Hypoglycemia was associated with greater odds of adjusted ICU (odds ratio (OR) = 1.41, 95% CI = 1.31 to 1.54) and hospital death (OR = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.27 to 1.46). Hypoglycemia severity was associated with 'dose-response' increases in mortality. BG variability was associated with greater odds of adjusted ICU (1.5, 95% CI = 1.4 to 1.6) and hospital (1.4, 95% CI = 1.3 to 1.5) mortality, when compared with either hypoglycemia only or neither.
Conclusions: In critically ill patients, both early hypoglycemia and early variability in BG are relatively common, and independently portend an increased risk for mortality.