Hypoglycemia is associated with increased cardiovascular mortality in trials of intensive therapy in type 2 diabetes (T2DM). We previously observed an increase in arrhythmias during spontaneous prolonged hypoglycemia in T2DM patients. Our aim was to examine changes in cardiac autonomic function and repolarization during sustained experimental hypoglycemia.
Twelve adults with T2DM and eleven age, BMI-matched nondiabetic controls underwent paired hyperinsulinemic clamps separated by 4 weeks. Glucose was maintained at euglycemia (6.0mmol/L) or hypoglycemia (2.5mmol/L) for one hour. Heart rate, blood pressure, heart rate variability were assessed every thirty minutes and corrected QT (QTc) and T wave morphology every 60 minutes.
Heart rate initially increased in T2DM participants but then fell towards baseline despite maintained hypoglycemia at 1 hour, accompanied by reactivation of vagal tone. In nondiabetic participants, vagal tone remained depressed during sustained hypoglycemia. Diabetic participants exhibited greater heterogeneity of repolarization during hypoglycemia as demonstrated by T wave symmetry and Principal Component Analysis (PCA) ratio compared with the nondiabetic group. Epinephrine levels during hypoglycemia were similar between groups.
Cardiac autonomic regulation during hypoglycemia appears time-dependent. T2DM individuals demonstrate greater repolarization abnormalities for a given hypoglycemic stimulus despite comparable sympathoadrenal responses. These mechanisms could contribute to arrhythmias during clinical hypoglycemic episodes.
This article contains Supplementary Data online at http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.2337/db16-1310/-/DC1.
- Received October 28, 2016.
- Accepted January 25, 2017.
- © 2017 by the American Diabetes Association.