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Severe and Nonsevere Hypoglycemia in Glargine Insulin Treatment

Hypoglycemia was relatively uncommon in the ORIGIN (Outcome Reduction with an Initial Glargine Intervention) trial…

ORIGIN trial investigators have published results of their look at treatment with insulin glargine compared with standard care early in the course of dysglycemia, and its effects on hypoglycemia.

A total of 12,537 people with high cardiovascular risk and dysglycemia treated with one or no oral glucose-lowering agents were randomized to add glargine titrated to a fasting glucose level of ≤5.3 mmol/L (≤95 mg/dL) or to use standard therapies. Independent associations of both nonsevere hypoglycemia (symptomatic and confirmed with a glucose level of ≤3 mmol/L [≤54 mg/dL]) and severe hypoglycemia with characteristics at baseline, treatment allocation, and average HbA1c were assessed by Cox proportional hazards models.

During a median follow-up period of 6.2 years, 28% of participants reported nonsevere hypoglycemia, and 3.8% reported severe hypoglycemia. Prior use of a sulfonylurea and allocation to glargine independently predicted a higher risk for both categories of participants. Nonsevere events were independently associated with younger age, lower BMI, the presence of diabetes, and higher baseline HbA1c level. Severe events were associated with older age, hypertension, higher serum creatinine level, and lower cognitive function, but not baseline glycemic status. Progressively higher on-treatment HbA1c level was associated with a lower risk of nonsevere events in both treatment groups; a lower risk of severe events in the glargine group, and a higher risk of severe events with standard care.

The researchers concluded that, “Hypoglycemia was relatively uncommon in the ORIGIN trial, but was more frequent with sulfonylurea use at baseline and allocation to glargine. Nonsevere and severe events were associated with different clinical characteristics, awareness of which may guide individualized therapy.”

Practice Pearls:

  • Hypoglycemia events were not common in the ORIGIN trial.
  • Severe events had a direct relationship with older age, hypertension, higher serum creatinine level, and lower cognitive function.
  • Even though hypoglycemia is uncommon in glargine insulin, patients still should be advised when being treated with this drug.

Riddle M. Predictors of nonsevere and severe hypoglycemia during glucose lowering treatment with insulin Glargine or standard drugs in the origin trial. Diabetes Care 2015; 38:22-28.