Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2021 May 31. doi: 10.1097/MEG.0000000000002218. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Bacteremia is a common cause of death in patients with cirrhosis and early antimicrobial therapy can be life-saving. Severe liver disease impairs glucose metabolism such that hypoglycemia may be a presenting sign of infection in patients with cirrhosis. We explored this association using granular retrospective data.
METHODS: We conducted a case-control analysis from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 17 in the University of Pennsylvania Health System. We identified the first blood culture results from all cirrhosis hospitalizations and obtained detailed vital sign and laboratory data in the 24-72 h prior to culture results. We used multivariable logistic regression to develop models predicting blood culture positivity and in-hospital mortality. We repeated these analyses restricted to normothermic individuals. Restricted cubic splines were used to model nonlinearity in the glucose variable.
RESULTS: We identified 1274 cirrhosis admissions with blood culture results (52.7% positive). In adjusted models, minimum glucose 24-72 h prior to blood culture result date was a significant predictor of blood culture positivity. In particular, glucose levels below 100 mg/dL significantly increased the probability of subsequent positive blood culture (e.g. odds ratio 1.89 for 50 mg/dL vs. 100 mg/dL, P = 0.004). This relationship persisted when restricting the cohort to normothermic individuals. Glucose levels <100 mg/dL in patients with bacteremia were also positively associated with in-hospital mortality.
CONCLUSIONS: Early hypoglycemia is predictive of subsequently documented bacteremia and in-hospital mortality in patients with cirrhosis, even among normothermic individuals. In patients without other overt signs of infection, low glucose values may serve as an additional data point to justify early antibiosis.