Risk of hospitalization for hypoglycemia among older Korean people with diabetes mellitus: Interactions between treatment modalities and comorbidities

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The objective of this study was to carry out a large population-based study to understand the factors associated with hypoglycemia-related hospitalizations among older Korean adults with diabetes mellitus.

This study analyzed data from a subset of the 2013 Health Insurance and Review and Assessment service-Adult Patient Sample. A total of 307,170 subjects, comprising 41.7% men and 58.3% women, had diabetes mellitus. Hypertension (80.8%) was the most common comorbidity, and dyslipidemia (59.0%) and ischemic heart disease (21.3%) were also prevalent. Approximately half of the patients with diabetes had >2 comorbidities, and two-thirds of the patients had >3 comorbidities. The proportion of patients taking insulin or sulfonylureas was 54.9%, and 23.2% of the patients were taking other medications. About 21.9% of the patients were treated nonpharmacologically. A total of 2867 hypoglycemia-related admission occurred, the incident rate was 9.33 per 1000 person. The risk was higher among female patients and older patients with several comorbidities, including cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic liver disease, chronic kidney disease, dementia, and malignancies. Treatment modalities, including insulin and sulfonylureas, were associated with a high risk of hypoglycemia. After adjustments for age, sex, the different comorbidities, and the treatment modalities, we determined that chronic kidney disease and dementia were associated with a high risk of hypoglycemia-related hospitalization (odds ratio [OR] = 2.52 and OR = 1.93, respectively). Furthermore, patients with chronic kidney disease or dementia who were treated with sulfonylureas and insulin had very high risks of hypoglycemia, and the incident rate was 66.6 and 63.75 per 1000 person, respectively.

In conclusion, the presence of comorbidities, especially chronic kidney disease and dementia, increased the risk of hypoglycemia-associated hospitalization within this population of older patients with diabetes. The impact of the treatment modality, for example, insulin or sulfonylureas, on hypoglycemia was much greater among these patients.

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