Diabetes mellitus can usually be reasonably well controlled on a day-to-day basis with modern drug regimens. Nonetheless, the risks of metabolic decompensation and iatrogenic hypoglycaemia remain close at hand. Life threatening hyperglycaemia - with or without ketosis - may be precipitated by intercurrent illness or interruption of antidiabetic therapy; new cases of diabetes frequently present as hyperglycaemic emergencies. Clinical outcomes for patients with diabetes after myocardial infarction or surgery may be compromised by sub-optimal metabolic control, the presence of chronic co-morbidity in the form of microvascular complications or atherosclerosis magnifying these risks. Pregnancy continues to present particular hazards for mother and fetus.
Considerable evidence has now accumulated pointing to the prospect of improved outcomes for more patients with diabetes through meticulous attention to clinical care. Inevitably, many patients will experience temporary periods of metabolic instability that can be difficult to manage even in a controlled hospital environment. Experienced clinicians will attest to the challenges often presented by patients with diabetic metabolic emergencies.
This book has been written by experienced authors and investigators, each an expert in his or her field. The chapters aspire to present the salient features of each emergency in an accessible format. We hope the book will be of value to a range of health care professionals who care for patients with diabetes.
Southampton, UK February 2004
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