Substantial Increase in Incidence of Severe Hypoglycemia Between 1997–2000 and 2007–2010

A German longitudinal population-based study

  1. Peter Kovacs, PHD2
  1. 1First Department of Medicine, Clinic Lippe-Detmold, Detmold, Germany
  2. 2Medical Department, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
  1. Corresponding author: Andreas Holstein, andreas.holstein{at}


OBJECTIVE To compare the incidences of severe hypoglycemia and corresponding clinical circumstances in a German population between 2007–2010 and 1997–2000.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS A screening for severe hypoglycemia was performed in the Lippe-Detmold area in Germany to sensitively detect severe hypoglycemia. This was defined as a symptomatic event requiring treatment with intravenous glucose and being confirmed by a blood glucose measurement of <50 mg/dL.

RESULTS Severe hypoglycemia increased considerably from 264 events in 1997–2000 to 495 events in 2007–2010, which translated into an increase in frequency of severe hypoglycemia among all emergency admissions from 0.68 to 0.83% (P = 0.015). This was mostly related to intensification of antihyperglycemic therapy, particularly in the increasingly morbid group of hypoglycemic patients with type 2 diabetes indicated by lower HbA1c, more comedication (3.3 vs. 7.7 drugs), and more concomitant diseases (3.6 vs. 4.4) (all P values <0.001).

CONCLUSIONS Within a 10-year period, there was an intensification of antihyperglycemic therapy in increasingly comorbid subjects, leading to a considerably higher incidence of severe hypoglycemia.


  • Received August 3, 2011.
  • Accepted February 2, 2012.

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