Background: Hyperglycemia is common among patients admitted to intensive care units, and carries the risk for complications and prolonged ICU stay. With intensive insulin control of blood glucose, morbidity and mortality can be reduced.
Objectives: To determine whether intensive or conventional insulin control of blood glucose in hyperglycemic ICU patients correlated with the prognosis.
Methods: Following admission to the ICU, hyperglycemic patients were randomly assigned to a group treated intensively with insulin targeting glucose at 110–140 mg/dl, or to a conventional insulin therapy group, where glucose, upon exceeding 200 mg/dl, was controlled at 140–200 mg/dl. Rates of morbidity and mortality, hypoglycemic episodes, and insulin dosage were compared.
Results: In the 41 patients treated intensively with insulin the glucose level was 142 ± 14 mg/dl, as compared to 174 ± 20 mg/dl in the 48 patients on conventional insulin treatment. Both groups were similar in age, acute physiology and chronic health evaluation score. Morbidity was also similar, except for increased vascular damage in the conventional treatment group and slightly shorter ICU stay in the intensive therapy group. Both groups had similar in-ICU, in-hospital, and 28 day mortalities, and similar rates of hypoglycemic episodes. The daily dosage of insulin was significantly higher with the conventional treatment (P = 0.004).
Conclusions: Intensive insulin treatment did not affect the mortality or morbidity rates in ICU patients. The increased insulin dosage of conventional insulin treatment was attributable to the group's higher prevalence of diabetes. Future studies should address this bias and determine the optimal glucose target.