Population-based study of severe hypoglycemia requiring emergency medical service assistance reveals unique findings

Ajay K. Parsaik, Rickey E. Carter, Vishwanath Pattan, Lucas A. Myers, Hamit Kumar, Steven A. Smith, Christopher S. Russi, James A. Levine, Ananda Basu, Yogish C. Kudva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective is to report a contemporary population-based estimate of hypoglycemia requiring emergency medical services (EMS), its burden on medical resources, and its associated mortality in patients with or without diabetes mellitus (DM, non-DM), which will enable development of prospective strategies that will capture hypoglycemia promptly and provide an integrated approach for prevention of such episodes. Methods: We retrieved all ambulance calls activated for hypoglycemia in Olmsted County, Minnesota, between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2009. Results: A total of 1473 calls were made by 914 people (DM 8%, non-DM 16%, unknown DM status 3%). Mean age was 60 ± 16 years with 49% being female. A higher percentage of calls were made by DM patients (87%) with proportionally fewer calls coming from non-DM patients (11%) (chi-square test, p < .001), and the remaining 2% calls by people with unknown DM status. Emergency room transportation and hospitalization were significantly higher in non-DM patients compared to DM patients (p < .001) and type 2 diabetes mellitus compared to type 1 diabetes mellitus (p < .001). Sulphonylureas alone or in combination with insulin varied during the study period (p = .01). The change in incidence of EMS for hypoglycemia was tracked during this period. However, causality has not been established. Death occurred in 240 people, 1.2 (interquartile range 0.2-2.7) years after their first event. After adjusting for age, mortality was higher in non-DM patients compared with DM patients (p < .001) but was not diferent between the two types of DM. Conclusions: The population burden of EMS requiring hypoglycemia is high in both DM and non-DM patients, and imposes significant burden on medical resources. It is associated with long-term mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-73
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Diabetes Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Ambulance
  • Diabetes
  • Emergency room transportation
  • Hypoglycemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering


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