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Diabet Med. 2012 Jan;29(1):128-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2011.03431.x.

Effect of psychological stress on glucose control in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland.



To investigate the effect of acute psychological stress on glucose concentrations in patients with Type 2 diabetes, in the fasting state as well as in the postprandial state.


Thirty patients (12 female) with Type 2 diabetes were included. Mean ± SD age was 60 ± 12 years, BMI 28.8 ± 4.2 kg/m(2), diabetes duration 8.9 ± 6.7 years and HbA(1c) 51 ± 9 mmol/mol (6.8 ± 0.8%). Using a non-randomized approach, all participants were exposed to moderate psychological stress by means of the Trier Social Stress Test: 10 participants in the fasting state and 20 participants 75 min after intake of a standard meal. Blood pressure, heart rate and salivary cortisol were monitored on the control day and the stress-test day. Glucose concentrations were assessed using a continuous glucose monitoring system.


On the stress-test day, blood pressure rose from 117/73 ± 13/12 to 155/92 ± 22/14 mmHg, heart rate from 77 ± 11 to 91 ± 25 b min(-1) and salivary cortisol concentrations from 8.5 ± 3.7 to 26.4 ± 12.1 nmol/l (P < 0.001); these measurements remained unchanged on the control day. On the stress-test day, when the Trier Social Stress Test was applied 75 min after the intake of a standard meal, the glucose concentrations were significantly higher compared with the control day (mean difference 1.5 mmol/l, 95% CI 0.5-2.4, P = 0.003). In the fasting state, glucose concentrations slightly decreased during the control day but remained stable on the stress-test day (mean difference compared with the control day 0.7 mmol/l, 95% CI -0.7 to 2.0, P = 0.31).


When stress is experienced in the postprandial period, acute psychological stress significantly increases glucose concentrations in patients with Type 2 diabetes.


[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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