Diabetic ketoacidosis is a potentially life threatening complication of diabetes. Thousands of patients with diabetes die from diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) every year. It is, however, a preventable complication and with proper and aggressive treatment, most people with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) may recover completely.
Death from DKA: Most people who develop DKA recover after treatment and only about 2% of patients die (when the condition is not treated properly). Prognosis or outcome of DKA is substantially worsened at the extremes of age (young children and elderly) and in the presence of coma and hypotension. Older patients may not be on insulin before developing DKA and therefore, are less likely to have had a history of an episode of DKA. Older patients usually need more insulin for the treatment of DKA, the hospital stay is usually longer and the death rate is also higher (22 percent for those older than 65 as compared with 2 percent for those younger than 65 years).
Complications of DKA: Some patients can develop complications from the treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis such as low blood sugar, low potassium, collection of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), seizure, cardiorespiratory arrest or swelling of the brain (cerebral edema). Many of these complications are related to treatment used for diabetic ketoacidosis such as fluids and insulin.
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