Diabetes Is Associated With Reduced Stress Hyperlactatemia in Cardiac Surgery


Hyperglycemia and hyperlactatemia are associated with increased morbidity and mortality in critical illness. We evaluated the relationship among hyperlactatemia, glycemic control, and diabetes mellitus (DM) after cardiac surgery.


This was a retrospective cohort study of 4,098 cardiac surgery patients treated between 2011 and 2015. Patients were stratified by DM and glucose-lowering medication history. Hyperglycemia (glucose >180 mg/dL), hypoglycemia (<70 mg/dL), and the hyperglycemic index were assessed postoperatively (48 h). The relationship between lactate and glucose levels was modeled using generalized linear regression. Mortality was analyzed using an extended Cox regression model.


Hyperglycemia occurred in 26.0% of patients without DM (NODM), 46.5% with DM without prior drug treatment (DMNT), 62.8% on oral medication (DMOM), and 73.8% on insulin therapy (DMIT) (P < 0.0001). Hypoglycemia occurred in 6.3%, 9.1%, 8.8%, and 10.8% of NODM, DMNT, DMOM, and DMIT, respectively (P = 0.0012). The lactate levels of all patients were temporarily increased with surgery. This increase was greater in patients who also had hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia and was markedly attenuated in patients with DM. Peak lactate was 5.8 mmol/L (95% CI 5.6, 6.0) in NODM with hyperglycemia vs. 3.3 (95% CI 3.2, 3.4) without hyperglycemia; in DMNT: 4.8 (95% CI 4.4, 5.2) vs. 3.4 (95% CI 3.1, 3.6); in DMOM: 3.8 (95% CI 3.5, 4.1) vs. 2.9 (95% CI 2.7, 3.1); and in DMIT: 3.3 (95% CI 3.0, 3.5) vs. 2.7 (95% CI 2.3, 3.0). Increasing lactate levels were associated with increasing mortality; increasing glucose reduced this effect in DM but not in NODM (P = 0.0069 for three-way interaction).


Stress hyperlactatemia is markedly attenuated in patients with DM. There is a three-way interaction among DM, stress hyperlactatemia, and stress hyperglycemia associated with mortality after cardiac surgery.

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