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Nearly half of all heart surgery patients require temporary insulin treatment after their operation, even though they are not diabetic, a new study has found.
Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System discovered that patients who were obese, elderly or whose blood sugar levels were still high two days after their operation were most likely to need insulin treatment.
The study looked at 1,362 patients who had heart and vascular operations at the University in 2006 and 2007. Of these, 662 developed “stress induced hyperglycemia”, or high blood sugar, after surgery, and 87 needed blood sugar medicines even after they left the hospital.
Surgeons already knew that high blood sugar during surgery is associated with worse recovery and a higher risk of infection and death. So, most heart and blood vessel surgery patients currently have their blood sugars monitored in the operating room, and many patients receive doses of insulin while the operation is going on.
The new study looked at what happened after surgery, and what factors predicted a need for blood sugar treatment. The most telling sign that a person was likely to need such treatment was their average blood sugar two days after surgery. Obesity and age also had a bearing on the likelihood that insulin treatment would be needed, the researchers said.
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