By: W. Langbein
Results from a Scottish study of 215 type 2s treated with twice-daily or more insulin injections for at least a year reveal that the frequency of severe hypoglycemia, while lower than in type 1s, “is more common than has been previously recognized.”
The researchers surveyed the patients (median age of 68) regarding episodes of hypoglycemia prior to starting insulin therapy in this retrospective study. Nearly three-quarters of the patients had experienced at least one episode of hypoglycemia since starting insulin therapy, compared with 15 percent experiencing a total of 60 episodes of severe hypoglycemia in the preceding year.
The frequency of severe hypoglycemia increased with the age and duration of diabetes, leading the authors to note that autonomic symptoms such as sweating and shaking were common throughout the study population, but symptoms of confusion and drowsiness were more common in patients with impaired awareness of hypoglycemia.
Thirteen patients with hypoglycemia unawareness had a nine-fold greater rate of severe hypoglycemia.
-Diabetic Medicine, December 2003