Hospitalization rates for hypoglycemia are increasing, according to a nine-year study published in The Lancet. The increased rate of hospitalization is most likely due to the increasing number of people with diabetes in the hospital system, researchers believe.
Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, starves the brain of glucose energy, which can result in symptoms ranging from headache and confusion to loss of consciousness, seizure, coma, and death. While mild bouts of hypoglycemia can be treated at home, severe cases require hospitalization.
For the study, researchers used the Hospital Episode Statistics database to collect data for all hospital visits in the UK that listed hypoglycemia as the primary reason of admission between January 1st, 2005 and December 31, 2014. In total, researchers examined 101,000 such hospital visits for about 80,000 people across England.
By 2014, the rate of admissions for hypoglycemia increased by 39 percent from 2005 levels. However, when researchers factored in the increased number of total hospital admissions during that time period, they were able to decipher that the rate of admissions for hypoglycemia grew by just 14 percent.
The good news is that those hospitalized received, on average, more effective care than in the past. Researchers found that length of stay, and rate of rapid readmissions and mortality all decreased throughout the study.
Such studies point to the need for hospitals to be adequately prepared to assess and treat blood sugar-related problems, especially as rates of diabetes – and by extension, of hypoglycemia – rise.
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