Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 40, Issue 7, pp 973–980 | Cite as

Dysglycaemia in the critically ill and the interaction of chronic and acute glycaemia with mortality

  • Mark P. Plummer
  • Rinaldo Bellomo
  • Caroline E. Cousins
  • Christopher E. Annink
  • Krishnaswamy Sundararajan
  • Benjamin A. J. Reddi
  • John P. Raj
  • Marianne J. Chapman
  • Michael Horowitz
  • Adam M. DeaneEmail author



Hyperglycaemia is common in the critically ill. The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence of critical illness-associated hyperglycaemia (CIAH) and recognised and unrecognised diabetes in the critically ill as well as to evaluate the impact of premorbid glycaemia on the association between acute hyperglycaemia and mortality.


In 1,000 consecutively admitted patients we prospectively measured glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) on admission, and blood glucose concentrations during the 48 h after admission, to the intensive care unit. Patients with blood glucose ≥7.0 mmol/l when fasting or ≥11.1 mmol/l during feeding were deemed hyperglycaemic. Patients with acute hyperglycaemia and HbA1c <6.5 % (48 mmol/mol) were categorised as ‘CIAH’, those with known diabetes as ‘recognised diabetes’, and those with HbA1c ≥6.5 % but no previous diagnosis of diabetes as ‘unrecognised diabetes’. The remainder were classified as ‘normoglycaemic’. Hospital mortality, HbA1c and acute peak glycaemia were assessed using a logistic regression model.


Of 1,000 patients, 498 (49.8 %) had CIAH, 220 (22 %) had recognised diabetes, 55 (5.5 %) had unrecognised diabetes and 227 (22.7 %) were normoglycaemic. The risk of death increased by approximately 20 % for each increase in acute glycaemia of 1 mmol/l in patients with CIAH and those with diabetes and HbA1c levels <7 % (53 mmol/mol), but not in patients with diabetes and HbA1c ≥7 %. This association was lost when adjusted for severity of illness.


Critical illness-associated hyperglycaemia is the most frequent cause of hyperglycaemia in the critically ill. Peak glucose concentrations during critical illness are associated with increased mortality in patients with adequate premorbid glycaemic control, but not in patients with premorbid hyperglycaemia. Optimal glucose thresholds in the critically ill may, therefore, be affected by premorbid glycaemia.


Hyperglycemia Blood glucose Diabetes mellitus Critical illness Hemoglobin A 



American Diabetes Association


Analysis of variance


Acute physiology and chronic health evaluation


Body mass index


Critical illness-associated hyperglycaemia


European Association for the Study of Diabetes


Glycated haemoglobin


Intensive care unit


Oral glucose tolerance test



The authors acknowledge the assistance of biostatiscians Ms Kylie Lange and Ms Suzanne Edwards (University of Adelaide). Dr. Mark Plummer is supported by a Dawes Scholarship (co-funded University of Adelaide and Royal Adelaide Hospital) and Dr. Adam Deane is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) Early Career Fellowship. Data collection was supported by a project grant from the Diabetes Australia Research Trust. These data were presented in abstract form at the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine 26th Annual Congress (Paris).

Conflicts of interest

M.H. has participated in advisory boards and/or symposia for Novo/Nordisk, Sanofl-Aventis, Novartis, Eli-Lilly, Boehringer Ingelheim, AstraZeneca, Satlogen and Meyer Nutraceuticals. M.P.P., R.B., C.E.C., C.E.A., K.S., B.J.R., J.P.R., M.J.C and A.M.D have no duality of interests to declare.

Supplementary material

134_2014_3287_MOESM1_ESM.png (731 kb)
Fig. 1. Hospital mortality vs acute glycaemia when categorised according to premorbid glycaemia (HbA1c) adjusted for age, BMI, APACHE II and admission type (medical/surgical). After adjustment the interaction term peak BGL*HbA1c interaction was no longer significant (P = 0.13). The model was an adequate fit (Hosmer and Lemeshow goodness of fit test). Slope estimates for each category were HbA1c < 6 % (42 mmol/mol), odds ratio = 1.05 (95 % CI 0.97, 1.13), P = 0.22; 6 % ≤ HbA1c < 7 % (53 mmol/mol), odds ratio = 1.13 (95 % CI 1.02, 1.25), P = 0.016; and HbA1c ≥ 7 %, odds ratio = 0.97 (95 % CI 0.86, 1.09), P = 0.575.(PNG 731 kb)
134_2014_3287_MOESM2_ESM.doc (125 kb)
Fig. 2 Insulin and blood glucose protocol during study period (DOC 125 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg and ESICM 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark P. Plummer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rinaldo Bellomo
    • 3
    • 4
  • Caroline E. Cousins
    • 1
  • Christopher E. Annink
    • 1
  • Krishnaswamy Sundararajan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Benjamin A. J. Reddi
    • 1
    • 2
  • John P. Raj
    • 1
  • Marianne J. Chapman
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael Horowitz
    • 5
    • 6
  • Adam M. Deane
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Critical Care ServicesRoyal Adelaide HospitalAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Discipline of Acute Care MedicineUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Intensive CareAustin HospitalHeidelbergAustralia
  4. 4.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Discipline of MedicineUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  6. 6.Department of EndocrinologyRoyal Adelaide HospitalAdelaideAustralia

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