Euglycemic diabetic ketoacidosis caused by empagliflozin complicated by failure to thrive in a geriatric patient

Azeem Rathore, Nidhi Gupta, Cameron Kahn, Dinesh Kadariya


Euglycemic diabetic ketoacidosis (euDKA) is a rare but deadly complication of sodium-glucose cotransport-2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors. Primarily indicated for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, the incidence of euDKA is expected to rise as SGLT-2 inhibitors become a mainstay therapy for diabetics with heart failure. Diagnosis of euDKA can be difficult given the presence of normoglycemia and is especially challenging among geriatric patients that are complicated by additional comorbidities. We present a case of an elderly male with multiple comorbidities who presented for dehydration and altered mentation from a nursing home facility. Laboratory investigations showed signs of acute renal failure, uremia, electrolyte abnormalities, and severe metabolic acidosis due to high levels of plasma beta-hydroxybutyrate. He was admitted to the medical intensive care unit (ICU) for further management. A presumptive diagnosis of euDKA was strongly suspected due to his laboratory data and medication reconciliation which revealed the recent initiation of empagliflozin. The patient was promptly started on a standardized treatment protocol for DKA with continuous infusion of regular insulin with strict glucose monitoring, along with intravenous fluids, and a small dose of sodium bicarbonate infusion as per current standard guidelines. With the rapid improvement in symptoms and metabolic derangements, the diagnosis was confirmed. Geriatric patients from nursing home facilities are a high-risk cohort who if not properly cared for by nursing staff can develop dehydration, malnutrition and worsening frailty including sarcopenia that exposes them to increased risk of medication side effects, such as euDKA. Clinicians should consider euDKA in their differential diagnosis in elderly patients with overt or relative insulinopenia who are receiving SGLT-2 inhibitors when presenting with acute changes in health and mentation.


euglycemic diabetic ketoacidosis; SGLT-2 inhibitor; empagliflozin; geriatrics; Jardiance; failure to thrive

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