A single instance of blood sugar falling so low as to require an emergency department visit was associated with nearly double the risk of cardiovascular disease or death, finds a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study of older adults with type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, using data from a large longitudinal study, the researchers found that one third of the older adults with diabetes who had experienced a severe low blood sugar episode (hypoglycemia) died within three years of the incident. In analyzing their data, the researchers controlled for such variables as how severe a person’s diabetes was and how long it had been since diagnosis.
The researchers say that their findings suggest that doctors might want to pay special attention to patients who have been sent to the emergency department for hypoglycemia after losing consciousness, having a seizure or experiencing another serious health event. The findings will be presented March 10 at the American Heart Association’s EPI|LIFESTYLE 2017 Scientific Sessions in Portland, Oregon.
“If you have a patient with a history of severe hypoglycemia, this could portend poorly for his or her future,” says Ms. Alexandra K. Lee, a PhD candidate in epidemiology at the Bloomberg School. “Our thinking has been that you resolve a hypoglycemic episode and it’s over. But what this tells us is that one episode may have long-lasting consequences.”