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Diabetes Metab J. 2011 Apr;35(2):166-72. doi: 10.4093/dmj.2011.35.2.166. Epub 2011 Apr 30.

Increasing trend in the number of severe hypoglycemia patients in Korea.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Eulji University Hospital, Eulji University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

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To investigate whether the number of subjects with severe hypoglycemia who are brought to a hospital emergency department is increasing and to identify whether there have been changes in the demographic and clinical characteristics of those subjects.


We analyzed data from the Emergency Departments of two general hospitals in Seoul, Korea. We included data from all adult subjects with type 2 diabetes who presented to an emergency department with severe hypoglycemia between January 1, 2004 and December 30, 2009.


A total of 740 cases of severe hypoglycemia were identified. The mean subject age was 69±12 years, mean duration of diabetes was 13.8±9.3 years, and 53.2% of subjects were receiving insulin therapy. We observed a sharp rise in the number of cases between 2006 and 2007. Stages 3-5 chronic kidney disease was diagnosed in 31.5% of subjects, and low C-peptide levels (<0.6 ng/mL) were found in 25.5%. The mean subject age, duration of diabetes, HbA1c level, and renal and insulin secretory function values did not change significantly during the study period. The proportion of glimepiride use increased, while use of gliclazide decreased among sulfonylurea users. Use of insulin analogues increased, while use of NPH/RI decreased among insulin users.


We identified a sharp increase in the number of subjects with severe hypoglycemia presenting to an emergency room since 2006. The clinical characteristics of these subjects did not change markedly during the study period. Nationwide studies are warranted to further clarify this epidemic of severe hypoglycemia.


Emergency Department; Epidemiology; Severe hypoglycemia

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