Many patients treated with insulin will experience severe hypoglycaemia at some time; yet relatively few have glucagon on hand. This is despite the fact that severe hypoglycaemia is considered to be a major cause of anxiety amongst insulin-treated patients. (1)
Causes of hypoglycaemia include skipping meals, stress, taking too much exercise or drinking too much alcohol. However, perhaps a more troubling cause is linked to intensive insulin therapy.
The risk of a severe hypoglycaemic event is 2-3 times higher in patients aiming to achieve optimal glucose control with intensive insulin therapy. (2) The fear of hypoglycaemia may inhibit patients from maintaining tight control of their blood sugar, thus depriving them of the key benefits intensive control offers, i.e. significant delay or prevention of long-term complications.
Healthcare professionals dealing with diabetes patients on a regular basis will be well attuned to the fear their patients have about hypoglycaemia. It is therefore important that glucagon administration is included as part of patient education programmes. Glucagon should be considered as a way of helping patients overcome their anxiety surrounding hypoglycaemia and become as expert as possible in achieving optimal control over their diabetes. Healthcare professionals can play a key role in ensuring that all patients and their relatives receive adequate training on hypoglycaemia and the use of glucagon.
The Novo Nordisk GlucaGen HypoKit provides a user friendly means of administering glucagon. For further information please call the Novo Nordisk Customer Care Line 0845 600 5055. (calls are charged at local rates and may be monitored for training purposes)
(1.) Pramming S. Thorsteinsson B. Bendtson I. Binder C. Diab Med 1991, 8: 217-222
(2.) DCCT Research Group. N Engl J Med 1993, 329: 977-86
(Prescribing information for GlucaGen HypoKit is on p. 3)
RELATED ARTICLE: ABBREVIATED PRESCRIBING INFORMATION FOR GLUCAGEN HYPOKIT 1MG
GlucaGen HypoKit 1mg Glucagon (rys)
Presentation: A vial containing 1mg (1 iu) glucagon (rys), as the hydrochloride, and lactose 107mg, together with a pre-filled syringe containing 1 ml Water for injections.
Uses: The treatment of severe hypoglycaemic reactions which may occur in the management of diabetic patients receiving insulin. As a motility inhibitor in examinations of the gastrointestinal tract. As a motility inhibitor in CT, NMR and DSA.
Dosage: The glucagon is dissolved in the accompanying diluent before use.
Treatment of severe hypoglycaemic reactions: 1mg (adults, children above 25kg or 6 - 8 years) or 0.5mg (children below 25kg or 6 - 8 years) by subcutaneous, intramuscular, or intravenous injection. When the patient responds, administer oral carbohydrate. If no response within 10 minutes, give intravenous glucose.
Diagnostic indications: Doses range from 0.1-2mg depending on the diagnostic technique used and the rank of administration. Usual dose for relaxation of stomach. duodenal bulb, duodenum and small bowel is 0.2-0.5mg i.v. or 1mg i.m. To relax the colon 0.5-0.75mg iv. or 2mg i.m. In CT, NMR and OSA doses up to 1mg i.v. are used.
Contra-indications: Phaeochromocytoma. Hypersensitivity to glucagon or excipients. Do not use if solution contains particles, or has viscous appearance.
Precautions: Glucagon reacts antagonistically towards insulin. Observe caution in patients with insulinoma or glucagonoma, and in diabetics or elderly patients with known cardiovascular disease.
Use in pregnancy: Glucagon does not cross the placenta. Glucagon has been used in pregnant diabetics; no harmful effects known with respect to course of pregnancy or health of foetus and neonate.
Side effects: Occasionally nausea and vomiting, which tends to be dose related. Positive inotropic and chronotropic effects (tachycardia). Rarely hypersensitivity.
PL numbers: GlucaGen 1mg PL 4668/0027
Diluent for GlucaGen 1mg fsyhnge) PL 4666/0026
Legal category: POM
Basic NHS price: GlucaGen HypoKit 1mg [pounds sterling]19.95 Full prescribing information can be obtained from: Novo Nordisk Limited, Broadfield Park, Brighton Road, Crawley, West Sussex RH 11 9RT. Tel: (01293) 613555
Date of Preparation: May 2002
HOW TO ADMINISTER GLUCAGEN: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
1. Insert the needle through the rubber disk of the GlucaGen bottle and inject all of the contents of the syringe into the bottle.
2. Without withdrawing the syringe, gently shake the bottle until the GlucGen is completely dissolved.
3. Ensure that the plunger is first fully depressed. Then draw up the entire solution into the syringe.
4. Ensure there is no air remaining in the syringe before giving the injection. When the patient responds, give them a sweet drink or snack to prevent a further hypo.
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