High prevalence of impaired awareness of hypoglycemia and severe hypoglycemia among people with insulin-treated type 2 diabetes: The Dutch Diabetes Pearl Cohort

Lian A van Meijel*, Femmie de Vegt, Evertine J Abbink, Femke Rutters, Miranda T Schram, Melanie M van der Klauw, Bruce H R Wolffenbuttel, Sarah Siegelaar, J Hans DeVries, Eric J G Sijbrands, Behiye Özcan, Harold W de Valk, Bianca Silvius, Nicolaas Schaper, Coen D A Stehouwer, Petra J M Elders, Cornelis J Tack, Bastiaan E de Galan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
67 Downloads (Pure)


OBJECTIVE: People with type 2 diabetes on insulin are at risk for hypoglycemia. Recurrent hypoglycemia can cause impaired awareness of hypoglycemia (IAH), and increase the risk for severe hypoglycemia. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence and determinants of self-reported IAH and severe hypoglycemia in a Dutch nationwide cohort of people with insulin-treated type 2 diabetes.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Observational study of The Dutch Diabetes Pearl, a cohort of people with type 2 diabetes treated in primary, secondary and tertiary diabetes care centers. The presence of IAH and the occurrence of severe hypoglycemia in the past year, defined as an event requiring external help to recover, were assessed using the validated Dutch version of the Clarke questionnaire. In addition, clinical variables were collected including age, diabetes duration, hemoglobin A1c, ethnicity and education.

RESULTS: 2350 people with type 2 diabetes on insulin were included: 59.1% men, mean age 61.1±10.4 years, mean diabetes duration 14.8±9.2 years and 79.5% on basal-bolus therapy. A total of 229 patients (9.7%) were classified as having IAH and 742 patients (31.6%) reported severe hypoglycemia. Increased odds for IAH were found with complex insulin regimens and lower odds with having a partner and body mass index ≥30 kg/m2. Severe hypoglycemia was associated with complex insulin regimens, non-Caucasian ethnicity and use of psychoactive drugs, and inversely with metformin use.

CONCLUSIONS: In this nationwide cohort, almost one out of ten people with type 2 diabetes on insulin had IAH and >30% had a history of severe hypoglycemia in the past year.

Original languageEnglish
Article number000935
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2020


  • hypoglycemia
  • hypoglycemia unawareness
  • type 2 diabetes
  • epidemiology
  • RISK

Cite this