Association Between Blood Glucose and Cardiac Rhythms During Pre-Hospital Care of Trauma Patients - A Retrospective Analysis

Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med. 2018 Jul 13;26(1):58. doi: 10.1186/s13049-018-0516-z.


Background: Deranged glucose metabolism is frequently observed in trauma patients after moderate to severe traumatic injury, but little data is available about pre-hospital blood glucose and its association with various cardiac rhythms and cardiac arrest following trauma.

Methods: We retrospectively investigated adult trauma patients treated by a nationwide helicopter emergency medical service (34 bases) between 2005 and 2013. All patients with recorded initial cardiac rhythms and blood glucose levels were enrolled. Blood glucose concentrations were categorised; descriptive and regression analyses were performed.

Results: In total, 18,879 patients were included, of whom 185 (1.0%) patients died on scene. Patients with tachycardia (≥100/min, 7.0 ± 2.4 mmol/L p < 0.0001), pulseless ventricular tachycardia (9.8 ± 1.8, mmol/L, p = 0.008) and those with ventricular fibrillation (9.0 ± 3.2 mmol/L, p < 0.0001) had significantly higher blood glucose concentrations than did patients with normal sinus rhythm between 61 and 99/min (6.7 ± 2.1 mmol/L). In patients with low (≤2.8 mmol/L, 7/79; 8.9%, p < 0.0001) and high (> 10.0 mmol/L, 70/1271; 5.5%, p < 0.0001) blood glucose concentrations cardiac arrest was more common than in normoglycaemic patients (166/9433, 1.8%). ROSC was more frequently achieved in hyperglycaemic (> 10 mmol/L; 47/69; 68.1%) than in hypoglycaemic (≤4.2 mmol/L; 13/31; 41.9%) trauma patients (p = 0.01).

Conclusions: In adult trauma patients, pre-hospital higher blood glucose levels were related to tachycardic and shockable rhythms. Cardiac arrest was more frequently observed in hypoglycaemic and hyperglycaemic pre-hospital trauma patients. The rate of ROSC rose significantly with rising blood glucose concentration. Blood glucose measurements in addition to common vital parameters (GCS, heart rate, blood pressure, breathing frequency) may help identify patients at risk for cardiopulmonary arrest and dysrhythmias.

Keywords: Blood glucose; Bradyarrhythmia; Cardiac arrest; Pre-hospital care; Tachyarrhythmia; Trauma.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / methods*
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest / blood
  • Heart Arrest / etiology
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Wounds and Injuries / blood*
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / physiopathology


  • Blood Glucose