Comparative Study
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Diabetic ketoacidosis in type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus: clinical and biochemical differences.

BACKGROUND: Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), once thought to typify type 1 diabetes mellitus, has been reported to affect individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus. An analysis and overview of the different clinical and biochemical characteristics of DKA that might be predicted between patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes is needed.

METHODS: We reviewed 176 admissions of patients with moderate-to-severe DKA. Patients were classified as having type 1 or type 2 diabetes based on treatment history and/or autoantibody status. Groups were compared for differences in symptoms, precipitants, vital statistics, biochemical profiles at presentation, and response to therapy.

RESULTS: Of 138 patients admitted for moderate-to-severe DKA, 30 had type 2 diabetes. A greater proportion of the type 2 diabetes group was Latino American or African American (P<.001). Thirty-five admissions (19.9%) were for newly diagnosed diabetes. A total of 85% of all admissions involved discontinuation of medication use, 69.2% in the type 2 group. Infections were present in 21.6% of the type 1 and 48.4% of the type 2 diabetes admissions. A total of 21% of patients with type 1 diabetes and 70% with type 2 diabetes had a body mass index greater than 27. Although the type 1 diabetes group was more acidotic (arterial pH, 7.21 +/- 0.12 vs 7.27 +/- 0.08; P<.001), type 2 diabetes patients required longer treatment periods (36.0 +/- 11.6 vs 28.9 +/- 8.9 hours, P =.01) to achieve ketone-free urine. Complications from therapy were uncommon.

CONCLUSIONS: A significant proportion of DKA occurs in patients with type 2 diabetes. The time-tested therapy for DKA of intravenous insulin with concomitant glucose as the plasma level decreases, sufficient fluid and electrolyte replacement, and attention to associated problems remains the standard of care, irrespective of the type of diabetes.

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