Risk factors for hypoglycaemia in people with diabetes admitted to the Emergency Department of a Hospital in French Guiana

Diabet Med. 2022 Feb;39(2):e14736. doi: 10.1111/dme.14736. Epub 2021 Nov 23.


Aims/introduction: Strict management of glucose levels in elderly people with diabetes or with comorbidities exposes them to the risk of severe hypoglycaemia (capillary or venous glucose ≤3.3 mmol/L) and the associated morbidity and mortality. We aimed to describe the clinical, laboratory, and epidemiological characteristics of people with diabetes admitted to the Emergency Department in Cayenne, French Guiana for severe hypoglycaemia and identify avoidable behaviours in this population.

Materials and methods: An observational epidemiological study of adults with diabetes who presented to the Emergency Department with severe hypoglycaemia was conducted between 2015 and 2018. Their medical history, clinical and laboratory data were collected. The primary outcome was the association between therapeutic misuse and age ≥65 years.

Results: Overall, 178 admissions were analysed. The main cause of hypoglycaemia was insulin dosing-error or inappropriate glycaemic targets. Among those ≥65 years, 59% had a glycated haemoglobin ≤48 mmol/mol (6.5%), and the median duration of their diabetes was 20 years. Among them, 60% were treated with sulfonylurea, repaglinide, biphasic insulin, or mixed drugs, and 48% were on non-diabetes related treatments that had a hypoglycaemic effect. Furthermore, 23% of the elderly treated with oral antidiabetics had chronic kidney disease.

Conclusion: Many avoidable risk factors for severe hypoglycaemia have been highlighted, in particular insulin dosing errors or non-compliance with recommendations for participants ≥ 65 years. Primary care physicians and homecare nurses need to provide preventive interventions and undergo training.

Keywords: diabetes; elderly; emergency; general medicine; hypoglycaemia.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • French Guiana / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / epidemiology*
  • Hypoglycemia / etiology
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose