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Diabetologia. 2004 Nov;47(11):1940-7. Epub 2004 Nov 17.

Prolonged cardiac repolarisation during spontaneous nocturnal hypoglycaemia in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes.

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Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, UK.



It has been postulated that hypoglycaemia-related cardiac dysrhythmia and, in particular, prolonged cardiac repolarisation, may contribute to increased mortality rates in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes.


We examined the prevalence of prolonged QT interval on ECG during spontaneous hypoglycaemia in 44 type 1 diabetic subjects (aged 7-18 years), and explored the relationships between serial overnight measurements of QT interval corrected for heart rate (QTc) and serum glucose, potassium and epinephrine levels. Each subject underwent two overnight profiles; blood was sampled every 15 min for glucose measurements and hourly for potassium and epinephrine. Serial ECGs recorded half-hourly between 23.00 and 07.00 hours were available on 74 nights: 29 with spontaneous hypoglycaemia (defined as blood glucose <3.5 mmol/l) and 45 without hypoglycaemia.


Mean overnight QTc was longer in females than in males (412 vs 400 ms, p=0.02), but was not related to age, diabetes duration or HbA(1)c. Prolonged QTc (>440 ms) occurred on 20 out of 74 (27%) nights, with no significant differences between male and female subjects, and was more prevalent on nights with hypoglycaemia (13/29, 44%) than on nights without (7/45, 15%, p=0.0008). Potassium levels were lower on nights when hypoglycaemia occurred (minimum potassium 3.4 vs 3.7 mmol/l, p=0.0003) and were inversely correlated with maximum QTc (r=-0.40, p=0.03). In contrast, epinephrine levels were not higher on nights with hypoglycaemia and were not related to QTc.


In young type 1 diabetic subjects, prolonged QTc occurred frequently with spontaneous overnight hypoglycaemia and may be related to insulin-induced hypokalaemia.

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