Background: Hyperglycemia is very common in postoperative coronary artery bypass graft patients. Although sliding scale insulin therapy is often used, there is no standard of care for the management of hyperglycemia.
Methods: Different intravenous insulin therapies were used in three consecutive sets of hyperglycemic postoperative coronary artery bypass graft patients. The first method was a sliding scale intravenous insulin regimen beginning with four units/hr, and increasing by four units/hr each hourly bedside arterial whole blood glucose measurement greater than 250 mg/dL (13.9 mmol/L) (n = 58). The second and third methods were constant insulin infusions at a rate of eight units (n = 60) and 20 units/hr (n = 51) respectively. Insulin infusions were reduced to two units/hr when the glucose concentration decreased to 150-250 mg/dL (8.3-13.9 mmol/L), and was stopped when it fell below 150 mg/dL (8.3 mmol/L).
Results: Thirty percent of patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting had a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. Forty-eight percent of all patients had a glucose value greater than 250 mg/dL (13.9 mmol/L) within the first 24 hours postoperatively. The three intravenous insulin infusion regimens produced similar control of arterial whole blood glucose concentrations. Patients with high initial glucose concentrations (greater than 400 mg/dL) (22.2 mmol/L) required intravenous insulin therapy for ten or more hours before attaining the target range of 151-250 mg/dL (8.3-13.9 mmol/L).
Conclusions: Constant-rate intravenous insulin therapy is effective in lowering arterial whole blood glucose concentrations in postoperative coronary artery bypass graft patients. Initiation of intravenous insulin therapy at lower glucose values reduces the time necessary for the infusion.