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Why Is Bicarbonate Low In Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

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Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Diabetes mellitus is the name given to a group of conditions whose common hallmark is a raised blood glucose concentration (hyperglycemia) due to an absolute or relative deficiency of the pancreatic hormone insulin. In the UK there are 1.4 million registered diabetic patients, approximately 3 % of the population. In addition, an estimated 1 million remain undiagnosed. It is a growing health problem: In 1998, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted a doubling of the worldwide prevalence of diabetes from 150 million to 300 million by 2025. For a very tiny minority, diabetes is a secondary feature of primary endocrine disease such as acromegaly (growth hormone excess) or Cushing’s syndrome (excess corticosteroid), and for these patients successful treatment of the primary disease cures diabetes. Most diabetic patients, however, are classified as suffering either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes Type 1 diabetes, which accounts for around 15 % of the total diabetic population, is an autoimmune disease of the pancreas in which the insulin-producing β-cells of the pancreas are selectively destroyed, resulting in an absolute insulin deficiency. The condition arises in ge Continue reading >>

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Popular Questions

  1. Knicks

    In DKA, the patient is acidotic, right? So why would the body decrease bicarbonate (a base)? Wouldn't you want to keep the bicarbonate high so as to neutralize the acid?
    Too tired to think straight at the moment.

  2. generic

    The HCO3 derangement is not a compensation--it is the primary problem.
    DKA patients have a metabolic acidosis, I think it's mostly caused by the formation of tons and tons of ketone bodies (acidic). These are formed because despite high circulating levels of glucose, the cells can't use the glucose without insulin-->turn to ketone formation instead.
    The metabolic acidosis may cause respiratory compensation, which would give Kussmaul breathing, for example.

  3. treva

    Knicks said: ↑
    In DKA, the patient is acidotic, right? So why would the body decrease bicarbonate (a base)? Wouldn't you want to keep the bicarbonate high so as to neutralize the acid?
    Too tired to think straight at the moment. Remember the kidney takes days to compensate for acidodic state by producing more bicarb. Acutely, the bicarb is used to buffer the extra acid, so it drops.
    This also explains why DKA pts have increased RR:
    CO2 + H20 <--> H2CO3 <--> HCO3- + H+
    If you blow off extra CO2 (ie by upping RR) you shift the above equation to the left, and promote the formation of H2CO3 via CA, helping to mop up the H+.

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