Tanzania Journal of Health Research

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Clinical presentation and precipitating factors of diabetic ketoacidosis among patients admitted to intensive care unit at a tertiary hospital in Mwanza, Tanzania

Shabani Iddi, Brayson Francis, Hyasinta M. Jaka, Mariam M. Mirambo, Martha F. Mushi


Background: Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), one of the common emergencies in patient with diabetes mellitus is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality.  This study aimed to determine clinical presentation and precipitating factors of DKA among patients admitted at Bugando Medical Centre (BMC) in north-western Tanzania.

Methods: This study involved a retrospective review of hospital records of DKA patients admitted to intensive care unit at BMC during 2012. Data on demographics, precipitating factors, clinical presentation, duration of hospital admission and mortality were extracted and analysed.

Results: Total records of 1,906 hospitalized patients in 2012 were reviewed. Of this, 29 (1.5%) had DKA. Of the 29 DKA patients, 18(62.1%) and 11 (37.9%) were males and females, respectively. Among them 21(72.4%) were known diabetics and 8(27.6%) were newly diagnosed to be diabetics. Twelve patients (41.1%) presented with polyuria, polydipsia and general body malaise. Eleven (37.9%) patients presented with loss of consciousness while 6(20.7%), 4(13.8%), 3(10.3%) and 1(3.4%) presented with vomiting, abdominal pain, Kussmaul’s breathing and coma, respectively. Nausea, weight loss and polyphagia each were presented by 2(6.9%) patients. The precipitating factors were infection 15 (51.7%), first presentation of diabetes mellitus 6 (20.7%), missed insulin injection 6 (20.7%) and co-morbid conditions 6 (20.7%). Four (13.8%), 1 (3.45%) and 1(3.45%) had stroke, chronic renal failure and hypertension, respectively. Among the DKA patients, 22 (75.9%) improved and were discharged, and 7 (24.1%) died.

Conclusion: DKA occurred in about 1.5% of the patients admitted to ICU and it was a major cause of morbidity and mortality. The main precipitating factor was infection. Since the precipitating factors are preventable, health care providers should put emphasis in educating diabetic patients at the diabetes clinic to reduce morbidity and mortality in these patients.
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