Hyperosmolar non-ketotic diabetic coma as a cause of emergency hyperglycaemic admission to Baragwanath Hospital

  • M Rolfe
  • G.G. Ephraim
  • D.C. Lincoln
  • K.R.L. Huddle


There were 136 emergency hyperglycaemic admissions to Baragwanath Hospital over a 6-month period during 1992 - 1993, representing 1,2% of the total number of medical admissions; 24 (18%) patients died. Diabetic keto-acidosis (DKA) accounted for 88 (65%) admissions (mortality rate 9%) while 16 admissions (12%) were as a result of hyperosmolar non-ketotic coma (HNKC), defined as hyperglycaemia, dehydration and an altered level of consciousness with a plasma osmolality ≥ 330 and an arterial pH ≥ 7,30, with absent or minimal ketonuria. Of these 16 patients, 9 (56%) were known to have diabetes mellitus. Patients with HNKC were significantly older than those with DKA (P < 0,001) and other patients with nonketotic hyperglycaemia (P < 0,05). The overall mortality rate was 44%; prophylactic low-molecular-weight heparin appeared of benefit (P < 0,05).


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eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135