Hospital admission rates for hypoglycaemia now exceed those for hyperglycaemias among older adults. A growing number of reports associating hypoglycaemia with non-antidiabetic drugs have been published. Clinical pharmacists are often faced with hypoglycaemia in patients taking multiple medications. This study assessed the potential relationship between prescribed drugs and episodes of hypoglycaemia during hospitalisation.
Point-of-care blood glucose values and prescribed drugs were analysed in patients admitted to a regional hospital. Hypoglycaemia cases were defined as patients with at least one hypoglycaemic event (random glucose value ≤3.9 mmol/L), and normoglycaemic cases as those with random glucose concentrations within the range of 4.5–5.8 mmol/L. Analyses were carried out using multivariate logistic regressions and Cox proportional hazard models.
373 patients (53% males; median age=74 years) were included in the analysis and of these, 64 (17%) had at least one hypoglycaemic event. Patients who experienced a hypoglycaemic event had a longer length of stay (median=10 vs 7 days, p<0.01) and a higher rate of antidiabetic drugs prescription (83% vs 37%, p<0.01). The number of non-antidiabetic drugs was associated with an increased risk of hypoglycaemia during hospitalisation (HR 2.3, 95% CI 1.4 to 4, p<0.01). After adjusting by confounders, heparin and pantoprazole were found to be associated with hypoglycaemia.
The relationship between hypoglycaemia and polypharmacy reinforces the advice to limit polymedication as much as possible, especially in elderly patients. This result underlines the potential involvement of clinical pharmacists with the aim to reduce the risk of hypoglycaemia during hospitalisation.