FRIDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Tightly controlling blood sugar levels after young children's heart surgery doesn't reduce the risk of infection, length of hospital stay or death, according to new research.
By keeping blood sugar levels in a normal range using insulin after surgery, researchers had hoped to see a reduction in infections and other complications. Instead, they saw an increased risk of dangerously low blood sugar levels.
"I think in the pediatric cardiac population, the question of whether or not tight glycemic control provides a benefit has been answered," said the study's lead author, Dr. Michael Agus, director of the medicine critical care program at Boston Children's Hospital. He said it's clear from this study that there's no statistically significant benefit to this therapy, and a clear risk from it.
Results of the study were published online Sept. 7 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with a presentation at a pediatric critical care meeting in Santa Monica, Calif.
During a critical illness or a surgical procedure, blood sugar levels in the body rise, sometimes dramatically. For a long time, it was assumed this was a natural response to the stress of illness or surgery. What wasn't clear was whether these high blood sugar levels provided a benefit, such as giving the body extra fuel to fight off an infection, or if they were causing harm.
What was known was that people who had high blood sugar levels often had bad outcomes, such as higher rates of infection and death, according to Agus. In 2001, a single-center trial of people in the intensive care unit reported that lowering blood sugar levels with insulin resulted in dramatic reductions in bad outcomes, Agus said.
Since that time, larger studies have shown no benefit from lowering blood sugar levels to normal in the adult intensive care population. However
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