Published online Jul 15, 2012. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v3.i7.130
Revised: May 22, 2012
Accepted: June 10, 2012
Published online: July 15, 2012
Over the last decade, the approach to clinical management of blood glucose concentration (BGC) in critical care patients has dramatically changed. In this editorial, the risks related to hypo, hyperglycemia and high BGC variability, optimal BGC target range and BGC monitoring devices for patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) will be discussed. Hypoglycemia has an increased risk of death, even after the occurrence of a single episode of mild hypoglycemia (BGC < 80 mg/dL), and it is also associated with an increase in the ICU length of stay, the major determinant of ICU costs. Hyperglycemia (with a threshold value of 180 mg/dL) is associated with an increased risk of death, longer length of stay and higher infective morbidity in ICU patients. In ICU patients, insulin infusion aimed at maintaining BGC within a 140-180 mg/dL target range (NICE-SUGAR protocol) is considered to be the state-of-the-art. Recent evidence suggests that a lower BGC target range (129-145 mg/dL) is safe and associated with lower mortality. In trauma patients without traumatic brain injury, tight BGC (target < 110 mg/dL) might be associated with lower mortality. Safe BGC targeting and estimation of optimal insulin dose titration should include an adequate nutrition protocol, the length of insulin infusion and the change in insulin sensitivity over time. Continuous glucose monitoring devices that provide accurate measurement can contribute to minimizing the risk of hypoglycemia and improve insulin titration. In conclusion, in ICU patients, safe and effective glycemia management is based on accurate glycemia monitoring and achievement of the optimal BGC target range by using insulin titration, along with an adequate nutritional protocol.