Author(s): Godoy DA, Di Napoli M, Rabinstein AA, Godoy DA, Di Napoli M, Rabinstein AA
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Abstract There is growing debate over the value of intensive insulin therapy (IIT) in critically ill patients. Available trials have been performed in general medical or surgical intensive care units, and the results may not be directly applicable to patients with severe acute brain disease because these patients may have heightened susceptibility to hyperglycemia (HyperG) and hypoglycemia. Our objective was to review the pathophysiology and effects of HyperG and hypoglycemia in neurocritical patients and to analyze the potential role of IIT in this population. Source data were obtained from a PubMed search of the medical literature combining the terms HyperG, hypoglycemia, insulin, stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI), and related diagnoses. Brain metabolism is highly dependent on constant supply of glucose. As a consequence, the acutely injured brain is particularly sensitive to hypoglycemia, which can induce a state of energy failure (metabolic crisis). Meanwhile, neurocritical patients have a high prevalence of HyperG, and its occurrence is associated with poor outcome after acute ischemic stroke, ICH, SAH, and TBI. It is unclear whether this association is due to direct detrimental effects exerted by HyperG or simply represents a marker of severe brain injury. Insulin has been shown to have various potentially pleiotropic neuroprotective properties in experimental models. However, the safety and efficacy of IIT in patients with critical brain disease have not been well studied. Available results do not support the use of IIT to maintain strict normoglycemia in this population. Patients with critical brain disease should have frequent glucose monitoring because severe HyperG and even modest hypoglycemia may be detrimental. Careful use of insulin infusion protocols appears advisable, but maintenance of strict normoglycemia cannot be recommended. Rigorous studies must be conducted to assess the value of insulin therapy and to determine the optimal blood glucose targets in patients with the most common acute vascular and traumatic brain insults.
This article was published in Neurocrit Care
and referenced in Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research