Intensive care unit hypoglycemia predicts depression during early recovery from acute lung injury

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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the association between intensive care unit blood glucose levels and depression after acute lung injury. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study. SETTING: Twelve intensive care units in four hospitals in Baltimore, MD. PATIENTS: Consecutive acute lung injury survivors (n ≤ 104) monitored during 1717 intensive care unit patient-days and screened for depression at 3 months after acute lung injury. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: The prevalence of a positive screening test for depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression subscale score ≥8) at follow-up was 28%. After adjustment for confounders, patients with a mean daily minimum intensive care unit glucose level <100 mg/dL had significant increases in mean depression score (2.1 points, 95% confidence interval 0.6-3.7) and in the likelihood of a positive depression screening test (relative risk 2.6, 95% confidence interval 1.2-4.2). Patients with documented hypoglycemia <60 mg/dL during their intensive care unit stay also had greater symptoms of depression (2.0 points, 95% confidence interval 0.5-3.5; relative risk 3.6, 95% confidence interval 1.8-5.1). Other factors independently associated with a positive depression screening test included body mass index >40 kg/m (relative risk 3.3, 95% confidence interval 1.2-4.2), baseline depression/anxiety (relative risk 3.9, 95% confidence interval 1.5-6.5), and mean daily intensive care unit benzodiazepine dose >100 mg of midazolam-equivalent agent (relative risk 2.4, 95% confidence interval 1.1-3.8). CONCLUSIONS: Hypoglycemia in the intensive care unit is associated with an increased risk of positive screening for depression during early recovery from acute lung injury. Baseline depressive symptoms, morbid obesity, and intensive care unit benzodiazepine dose were also associated with postacute lung injury depressive symptoms. These findings warrant increased glucose monitoring for intensive care unit patients at risk for hypoglycemia and further research on how patient and intensive care unit management factors may contribute to postintensive care unit depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2726-2733
Number of pages8
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2008


  • Adult
  • Blood glucose
  • Critical care
  • Depression
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Intensive care units
  • Respiratory distress syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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