Stress-induced hyperglycaemia

Br J Hosp Med (Lond). 2018 Nov 2;79(11):634-639. doi: 10.12968/hmed.2018.79.11.634.


Stress-induced hyperglycaemia is an important clinical entity. It is an adaptive immune-neurohormonal response to physiological stress in an attempt to increase metabolic substrates to struggling organs during a time of crisis. However, this acute hyperglycaemia is also responsible for a number of detrimental effects implying that treatment is necessary. Hence, admission hyperglycaemia is not necessarily equivalent to a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus but the blood glucose level needs to be interpreted in context of the patient's presenting complaint and previous glycaemic status. Stress-induced hyperglycaemia is associated with increased morbidity and short-term mortality. Thus prompt recognition of stress-induced hyperglycaemia and high risk hyperglycaemic patients with the stress hyperglycaemia ratio can help improve inpatient management. Patients with stress-induced hyperglycaemia who have recovered from their acute illness should be followed up as they remain at risk for incident diabetes. This review focuses on the definition, pathophysiology, targets, management and significance of stress-induced hyperglycaemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose
  • Comorbidity
  • Critical Care / methods
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / drug therapy
  • Hyperglycemia / etiology*
  • Hyperglycemia / physiopathology*
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin