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Clinical Issues in the Care of Critically Ill Diabetic Patients

Langdon, Courtney D. MD; Shriver, Rebecca L. MD

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Critically ill patients with a preexisting diagnosis of diabetes mellitus are very common and they have several inherent disorders that make their ICU care challenging. There is increasing evidence that hyperglycemia is all too common in the critically ill and that improved glucose control at presentation and during an ICU stay improves mortality. Glucose control after acute myocardial infarction and coronary artery bypass grafting in particular affects patient outcome and mortality. Diabetic patients are more prone to several medical problems that can predispose them to critical illness, prolong hospitalization, and increase mortality. Delayed gastric emptying and altered metabolism that affect medication dosing, absorption, and efficacy are common in this population. In addition, many patients with diabetes have renal dysfunction that can cause difficulties with drug excretion and glucose monitoring. Finally, patients with diabetes have an increased rate and severity of life-threatening infections and venous thromboembolism than do patients with normal glucose metabolism. There are many treatment options for patients with diabetes, and hyperglycemia in the ICU should be corrected in order to avoid adverse outcomes.

From the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, Kansas City, Mo.

Corresponding author: Rebecca L. Shriver, MD, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, 2411 Holmes, Kansas City, MO 64108 (e-mail: shriverr@umkc.edu).

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.