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Practice of strict glycemic control in critically ill patients

Marcus J. Schultz, Mart J. de Graaff, Annic A.N.M. Royakkers, Floris van Braam Houckgeest, Johannes P. van der Sluijs, Hans Kieft, Peter E. Spronk

Med Sci Monit 2008; 14(11): RA191-197

ID: 869431

Published: 2008-10-27

Blood glucose control aiming at normoglycemia, frequently referred to as "strict glycemic control", decreases mortality and morbidity of critically ill patients. We searched the medical literature for export opinions, surveys, and clinical reports on blood glucose control in intensive care medicine. While strict glycemic control has been recommended standard of care for critically ill patients, the risk of severe hypoglycemia with strict glycemic control is frequently mentioned by experts. Some rationalize this risk, though others strongly point out the high incidence of hypoglycemia to be (one) reason not to perform strict glycemic control. Implementation of strict glycemic control is far from complete in intensive care units across the world. Frequently local guidelines accept higher blood glucose levels than those with strict glycemic control. Only a minority of retrieved manuscripts are on blood glucose regimens with the lower targets as with strict glycemic control. Hypoglycemia certainly is encountered with blood glucose control, in particular with strict glycemic control. Reports show intensive care-nurses can adequately and safely perform strict glycemic control. Implementation of strict glycemic control is far from complete, at least in part because of the feared risks of hypoglycemia. The preference for hyperglycemia over intermittent hypoglycemia is irrational, however, because there is causal evidence of harm for the former but only associative evidence of harm for the latter. For several reasons it is wise to have strict glycemic control being a nurse-based strategy.

Keywords: Hyperglycemia - drug therapy, Critical Illness, Humans, Pharmaceutical Preparations, Blood Glucose - metabolism