Hypoglycemia is a serious problem in insulin-treated diabetic patients. In this study the efficacy of intravenous glucagon (1 mg) was compared with that of intravenous dextrose (25 g) in the treatment of hypoglycemia in insulin-treated patients attending an accident and emergency department. In addition, the prevailing glycemic control of these patients was compared with patients routinely attending a diabetic outpatient clinic. Both intravenous glucagon and dextrose were effective in the treatment of hypoglycemic coma. There was a difference in the glycemic profile after intravenous glucagon compared with intravenous dextrose, and recovery of a normal level of consciousness after glucagon was slower than after dextrose (6.5 vs. 4.0 min, respectively; P < .001), although the average duration of hypoglycemic coma was 1.4 h. The glucagon- and dextrose-treated groups had significantly lower HbA1 than comparable patients routinely attending the clinic (9.5 ± 0.8 vs. 12.0 ± 3.8%, respectively; P < .001). In view of the ease of administration and the small risk of vascular and extravascular complications, intravenous glucagon appears to be a useful alternative to intravenous dextrose in the treatment of severe hypoglycemia.

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