Hypoglycemia following intravenous insulin plus glucose for hyperkalemia in patients with impaired renal function

Armando Coca, Ana Lucia Valencia, Jesus Bustamante, Alicia Mendiluce, Jürgen Floege
PloS One 2017, 12 (2): e0172961

BACKGROUND: Hypoglycemia is a serious complication following the administration of insulin for hyperkalemia. We determined the incidence of hypoglycemia and severe hypoglycemia (blood glucose <70 or ≤40 mg/dl, respectively) in a cohort of AKI and non-dialysis dependent CKD patients who received an intravenous infusion of insulin plus glucose to treat hyperkalemia.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed charts of all AKI and non-dialysis dependent CKD patients who received 10 U of insulin plus 50 g glucose to treat hyperkalemia from December 1, 2013 to May 31, 2015 at our Department.

RESULTS: One hundred sixty four episodes of hyperkalemia were treated with insulin plus glucose and were eligible for analysis. Serum potassium levels dropped by 1.18 ± 1.01 mmol/l. Eleven treatments (6.1%) resulted in hypoglycemia and two (1.2%) in severe hypoglycemia. A lower pretreatment blood glucose tended to associate with a higher subsequent risk of hypoglycemia. Age, sex, renal function, an established diagnosis of diabetes or previous treatment were not associated with the development of this complication. We did not register any significant adverse events.

CONCLUSION: Our intravenous regimen combining an infusion of insulin plus glucose effectively reduced serum potassium levels compared to previous studies and associated a low risk of symptomatic hypoglycemia and other complications.

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