Background: A reduced dose of 5 units of intravenous (i.v.) insulin has been widely accepted for treatment of hyperkalemia in those with end-stage renal dysfunction. However, there remains a dearth of data for patients with moderate renal dysfunction (estimated glomerular filtration rate 15-59 mL/min/m2).
Objective: Describe the incidence of hypoglycemia and relative change in serum potassium when using 5 vs. 10 units of insulin for hyperkalemia in patients with moderate renal dysfunction.
Methods: This was a single-center, retrospective study evaluating adult patients with moderate renal dysfunction who received i.v. insulin for treatment of hyperkalemia. Patients were analyzed based on whether they received 5 or 10 units of i.v. insulin. The primary outcome was the rate of hypoglycemia in each group. Secondary outcomes included rate of relative potassium-lowering effect and incidence of severe hypoglycemia.
Results: Hypoglycemia occurred in 12 patients who received 5 units of i.v. insulin and 16 patients who received 10 units of i.v. insulin (6.5% vs. 8.4%, p = 0.476). Serum potassium was significantly reduced when utilizing 10 units over 5 units of i.v. insulin (-0.9 mmol/L vs. -0.63 mmol/L, p = 0.001). Severe hypoglycemia was seen in two encounters in both the 5-unit and 10-unit groups (1.1% vs. 1.0%, p = 0.979).
Conclusion: There was no difference in hypoglycemic events among patients with moderate renal dysfunction receiving 5 vs. 10 units of i.v. insulin for hyperkalemia. However, 10 units of i.v. insulin lowered serum potassium significantly more than 5 units of i.v. insulin.
Keywords: hyperkalemia; hypoglycemia; insulin; pharmacy; renal dysfunction.
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