Aims: Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) remains one of the most frequently encountered diabetes related emergencies, and despite updates in management and increasing standardisation of care, still has an appreciable morbidity and mortality. This review focusses on the pathophysiology and epidemiology of DKA, but also on the importance of having a standardised definition.
Methods: Relevant data were reviewed where there was available basic science or clinical papers published in peer-reviewed international journals on DKA. These included consensus documents and national or international guidelines.
Results: The prevalence of DKA varies around the world, but part of this could be down to the way the condition is defined. Examples of this difference include the recent studies on sodium glucose co-transporter inhibitors in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes which have all been associated with increased rates of DKA, but have highlighted how differences in definitions can make comparisons between agents very difficult.
Conclusions: DKA should only be diagnosed when all three components are present - the 'D', the 'K' and the 'A'. In addition, the definitions used to diagnose DKA should be standardised - in particular for clinical trials.
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