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Post-Hospital Low Blood Sugar a Danger to Diabetics

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: May 14th 2019

new article illustration

TUESDAY, May 14, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- If you are a diabetes patient, can having low blood sugar levels when you are discharged from the hospital be dangerous to your health?

That's what a new study discovered: Those patients had a 40% increased risk of readmission and an increased risk of early death.

"We found that patients with diabetes who are discharged with low or even near normal glucose values during the last day of the hospital stay are at a higher risk of dying or being readmitted to the hospital," said study first author Dr. Elias Spanakis. He is a physician at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

For the study, Spanakis and his team analyzed nearly 844,000 admissions of diabetes patients at U.S. Veterans Affairs hospitals over 14 years.

Compared to those with higher blood sugar levels, those with levels below 100 mg/dL when they were discharged from the hospital had: higher rates of readmission within 30 days; higher rates of death within 30, 90 and 180 days after leaving the hospital; and higher rates of combined readmission/death within 30 days, the findings showed.

The study was published online recently in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

"Although future studies are needed, physicians should avoid discharging patients with diabetes from the hospital until glucose values above 100 mg/dL are achieved during the last day of the hospitalization," Spanakis said in a journal news release.

In the United States, the overall cost for hospital readmissions within 30 days of discharge is estimated to be close to $25 billion a year.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on diabetes.