People recovering from surgery in intensive care units face several possible complications, ranging from infection to organ failure. The fact that most patients' blood-sugar concentration rises after major surgery has been considered among the least of their problems–until now.
Researchers at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium decided to test the effects of strictly controlling blood sugar in more than 1,500 people in the surgical intensive care unit (ICU). Most were nondiabetic. The overall death rate among the patients with strictly controlled blood sugar was a third less than that of patients given conventional treatment.
In the study, 765 participants received intensive insulin therapy to keep their blood sugar at about 107 milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood, a normal concentration in healthy people. The doctors gave the other 783 only enough insulin to keep their blood sugar at concentrations about twice normal, the standard of care in Eur