Addressing hyperglycemia from hospital admission to discharge

Etie S Moghissi
Current Medical Research and Opinion 2010, 26 (3): 589-98

BACKGROUND: This review examines glycemia management practices in hospitalized patients. Optimal glycemic control remains a challenge among hospitalized patients. Recent studies have questioned the benefit of tight glycemic control and have raised concerns regarding the safety of this approach. As a result, medical societies have updated glycemic targets and have published new consensus guidelines for management of glycemia in hospitalized patients. This review highlights recent inpatient glycemic trials, the new glycemic targets and recommended strategies for management of glycemia in hospitalized patients.

METHODS: Medline and PubMed searches (diabetes, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, intensive therapy insulin, tight glycemic control, and hospital patients) were performed for English-language articles on treatment of diabetes, insulin therapy, hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia in hospitalized patients published from 2004 to present. Earlier works cited in these papers were surveyed. Clinical studies, reviews, consensus/guidelines statements, and meta-analyses relevant to the identification and management of diabetes and hyperglycemia in hospitalized patients were included and selected. This is not an exhaustive review of the published literature.

RESULTS: Insulin remains the most appropriate agent for a majority of hospitalized patients. In critically ill patients insulin is given as a continuous intravenous (IV) infusion and in non-critically ill inpatients hyperglycemia is best managed using scheduled subcutaneous (SC) basal-bolus insulin regimens supplemented with correction doses as needed and adjusted daily with the guidance of frequent blood glucose monitoring. Prevention of hypoglycemia is equally as important to patient outcomes and is an equally necessary part of any effective glucose control program. Modern insulin analogs offer advantages over the older human insulins (e.g., regular and neutral protamine Hagedorn [NPH] insulin) because their time-action profiles more closely correspond to physiological basal and prandial insulin requirements, and have a lower propensity for inducing hypoglycemia than human insulin formulations. Long-acting basal insulin analogs (glargine, detemir) are suitable and preferred for the basal component of therapy; rapid-acting insulin analogs (aspart, lispro, glulisine) are recommended for bolus and correction doses. Sliding-scale insulin (SSI) regimens are not effective and should not be used, especially as this excludes a basal insulin component from the therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: Optimal glycemic management in the hospital setting requires judicious treatment of hyperglycemia while avoiding hypoglycemia. Insulin is the most appropriate agent for management of hyperglycemia for the majority of hospitalized patients. Intravenous insulin infusion is still preferred during and immediately after surgery, but s.c. basal insulin analogs with prandial or correction doses should be used after the immediate post-operative period, and also should be used in non-critically ill patients. Frequent and effective glucose monitoring is critical for avoiding wide deviations from acceptable glucose levels, which under a recently promulgated consensus guideline currently range between 140 mg/dL and 180 mg/dL. Glucose targets near 140 mg/dL are recommended as being the most appropriate for all hospitalized patients.

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