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Hypocaloric Enteral Nutrition Protects Against Hypoglycemia Associated with Intensive Insulin Therapy Better Than Intravenous Dextrose

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Intensive insulin therapy treats hyperglycemia but increases the risk of hypoglycemia. Typically, intravenous dextrose is given to prevent hypoglycemia; however, enteral nutrition is preferred. We hypothesized that the provision of hypocaloric enteral nutrition would protect against hypoglycemia. A retrospective analysis was performed evaluating patients treated with intensive insulin therapy comparing the use of enteral nutrition versus a dextrose-only intravenous solution. Nutrition in the 2 hours before each blood glucose test was assessed, and the association with hypoglycemia (50 mg/dL or less) evaluated. Risk of hypoglycemia as a function of nutrition type and rate was estimated by multivariable regression. A total of 26,140 blood glucose tests were collected on 1289 patients. Hypoglycemia occurred in 6.4 per cent of patients. In regression models, enteral nutrition was the strongest protective factor against hypoglycemia (P < 0.001) with the largest risk reduction (steepest portion of the curve) occurring at 60 per cent goal. Hypocaloric enteral nutrition showed a greater risk reduction than a peripheral dextrose-only intravenous solution alone. In the setting of intensive insulin therapy, the provision of enteral nutrition, even if hypocaloric, is sufficient to protect against hypoglycemia. Future prospective studies should evaluate the efficacy of enteral nutrition in reducing the risk of hypoglycemia and whether lower rates of hypoglycemia correspond to improved outcomes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care, Department of Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Publication date: 01 November 2014

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