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Curr Diab Rep. 2018 Jun 21;18(8):53. doi: 10.1007/s11892-018-1018-0.

Hypoglycemia Among Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: Epidemiology, Risk Factors, and Prevention Strategies.

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Department of Medicine Residency Program, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN, 55905, USA.
Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital "Dr. José E. González", Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Av. Francisco I. Madero y Av. Gonzalitos s/n, Mitras Centro, 64460, Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico.
Plataforma INVEST Medicina UANL-KER Unit Mayo Clinic, "Dr. Jose E. González" University Hospital, Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon, 64460, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
Knowledge and Evaluation Research Unit in Endocrinology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, 55905, USA.
Evidence-Based Practice Center, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN, 55905, USA.
Division of Community Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN, 55905, USA.
Division of Health Care Policy and Research, Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, 55905, USA.



Hypoglycemia is the most common and often treatment-limiting serious adverse effect of diabetes therapy. Despite being potentially preventable, hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetes incurs substantial personal and societal burden. We review the epidemiology of hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetes, discuss key risk factors, and introduce potential prevention strategies.


Reported rates of hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetes vary widely as there is marked heterogeneity in how hypoglycemia is defined, measured, and reported. In randomized controlled trials, rates of severe hypoglycemia ranged from 0.7 to 12 per 100 person-years. In observational studies, hospitalizations or emergency department visits for hypoglycemia were experienced by 0.2 (patients treated without insulin or sulfonylurea) to 2.0 (insulin or sulfonylurea users) per 100 person-years. Patient-reported hypoglycemia is much more common. Over the course of 6 months, 1-4% non-insulin users reported need for medical attention for hypoglycemia; 1-17%, need for any assistance; and 46-58%, any hypoglycemia symptoms. Similarly, over a 12-month period, 4-17% of insulin-treated patients reported needing assistance and 37-64% experienced any hypoglycemic symptoms. Hypoglycemia is most common among older patients with multiple or advanced comorbidities, patients with long diabetes duration, or patients with a prior history of hypoglycemia. Insulin and sulfonylurea use, food insecurity, and fasting also increase hypoglycemia risk. Clinical decision support tools may help identify at-risk patients. Prospective trials of efforts to reduce hypoglycemia risk are needed, and there is emerging evidence supporting multidisciplinary interventions including treatment de-intensification, use of diabetes technologies, diabetes self-management, and social support. Hypoglycemia among patients with type 2 diabetes is common. Patient-centered multidisciplinary care may help proactively identify at-risk patients and address the multiplicity of factors contributing to hypoglycemia occurrence.


Epidemiology; Hypoglycemia; Patient-centered care; Patient-reported outcome; Type 2 diabetes mellitus

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