Aim: Evidence is mounting that hypoglycaemia among elderly diabetic patients is a very real and costly concern. Objective of this study was to determine the incidence and risk factors for developing severe hypoglycaemia leading to hospital admission, among type 2 diabetic subjects aged 80 years or older.
Methods: Hypoglycaemia was defined as a symptomatic event requiring treatment with i. v. glucose and confirmed by a blood glucose determination <50 mg/dl.
Results: During a eight-year period severe hypoglycaemia was identified in 99 subjects. These patients were found to have a reduced cognitive ability, a heavy burden of comorbid disease and a HbA1c values of 5.9%. Of the hypoglycaemic episodes, 76 occurred in patients taking glibenclamide. Diabetes therapy was prescribed by general practitioners in 85 of them. Only 26 patients performed regular home blood glucose self-monitoring.
Conclusion: Severe hypoglycaemia is a serious and not uncommon metabolic emergency among patients with type 2 diabetes aged 80 years or older; it is more frequent in patients with considerable comorbidity undergoing aggressive diabetes management and in users of a long-acting sulphonylurea. In elderly subject, each patient's risk for hypoglycaemia should be considered and therapy should be individualized accordingly; in our opinion, a great number of episodes may be avoided by teaching the principles of blood glucose monitoring and involving general practitioners in outpatients management of diabetes mellitus.
(c) J. A. Barth Verlag in Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart. New York.