Body mass index influences the plasma glucose concentration during iatrogenic hypoglycemia in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a cross-sectional study

PeerJ. 2018 Feb 15:6:e4348. doi: 10.7717/peerj.4348. eCollection 2018.


Background: Hypoglycemia occurs in an appreciable number of individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) who are receiving glycemic therapy. Iatrogenic hypoglycemia induces not only complications but also a substantial medical expense. Intervention for relevant risk factors may help avert severe hypoglycemia and enhance quality of life in at-risk individuals. This study investigates the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and plasma glucose concentration during iatrogenic hypoglycemia in people with T2DM.

Methods: Enrollment criteria were people above 20 years of age, with existing diagnosis of T2DM, a documented plasma glucose level ≤70 mg/dL, and acute cognitive impairment requiring hospitalization. Participants were classified into two groups according to their BMI. Specifically, lower BMI subgroup denotes individuals whose BMI fall within lower half of the study population, and vice versa. Plasma glucose concentration, length of hospital stay, and serum electrolyte level at hospitalization were compared between these BMI subgroups. Moreover, multivariate regression analysis was performed to identify covariates associated with plasma glucose level during iatrogenic hypoglycemia.

Results: This study enrolled 107 participants for whom 54 were assigned to a higher BMI subgroup and the remainder to a lower BMI subgroup. People with lower BMI harbored substantially reduced plasma glucose concentration during iatrogenic hypoglycemia compared to those with higher BMI (30.1 ± 9.6 mg/dL vs. 38.4 ± 12.3 mg/dL, P < 0.001). Nonetheless, the length of stay (6.2 ± 4.6 days vs. 5.7 ± 4.0 days, P = 0.77) and serum potassium level (3.7 ± 0.9 meq/L vs. 3.9 ± 0.8 meq/L, P = 0.14) were comparable between subgroups. Multivariate regression analysis identified BMI as a determinant of plasma glucose concentration in diabetic individuals with iatrogenic hypoglycemia (β coefficient: 0.72, P = 0.008).

Discussion: In individuals with T2DM who experience severe iatrogenic hypoglycemia, BMI influences the plasma glucose level at hospitalization. People with lower BMI harbored appreciably reduced plasma glucose concentration relative to their higher BMI counterparts. In lower weight people, therefore, appropriate dosing of antidiabetic medications, frequent self-monitoring of blood glucose level and adequate nutritional support may help avert more severe hypoglycemia. Overall, BMI potentially influences the severity of iatrogenic hypoglycemia in people with T2DM.

Keywords: Body mass index; Complications; Hypoglycemia; Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Grants and funding

The authors received no funding for this work.