- Mortality Rates
- Risk Factors
With appropriate and timely treatment, the survival rate of DKA is quite high at over 95%. Survival rates are poorer in the elderly and those with known organ damage.
What is the mortality rate for diabetic ketoacidosis?
Mortality rates of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) are as follows:
- Overall: 0.2%-2%
- Individuals under 40: 5%
- Elderly or those with serious illnesses: 20%
What causes diabetic ketoacidosis?
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) can develop when there is an imbalance in the body causing high blood sugar and low insulin levels that leads to an overload of ketones (a blood acid) due to the rapid breakdown of fats by the liver.
- DKA is a result of severely decreased insulin levels that do not allow blood sugar into the cells to be used up for energy.
- Normally, insulin plays a key role in helping sugar (a major energy source for the muscles and other tissues) enter the cells.
- Without enough insulin, fats are broken down rapidly in the liver, which produces ketones that make the blood acidic.
- When ketones accumulate in the blood, they can become toxic and lead to ketoacidosis.
Other causes of DKA include:
- Serious illnesses such as heart attack, stroke, or pancreatitis
- Misses doses of insulin shots
- Physical injury or trauma
- Stress of surgery
- Alcohol or drug use
- Heat stroke
- Certain medications such as diuretics and corticosteroids
People with type II diabetes can also develop DKA, but it is less common and less severe.
What are risk factors for diabetic ketoacidosis?
Risk factors for diabetic ketoacidosis include:
- Type I diabetes (even if it is undiagnosed)
- Frequent missed insulin doses
- Not taking insulin as prescribed
- Gastrointestinal diseases
- Heart diseases or a heart attack
- Recent stroke
- Blood clots in the lungs
- Serious illness or any trauma
- Medicines such as steroids or antipsychotics
- Using illegal drugs such as cocaine
How is diabetic ketoacidosis diagnosed?
If diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is suspected, a physical examination and certain tests can help confirm a diagnosis. In some cases, additional tests may be needed to help determine the triggering factor of DKA:
- Blood tests to measure:
- Sugar levels
- Ketone levels
- Arterial blood gas
- X-ray chest
A confirmed diagnosis of DKA is generally made if:
- Blood glucose level is higher than 250 mg/dL
- Blood pH is less than 7.3 (acidosis)
- There is presence of ketones in the urine and/or blood
- Serum bicarbonate level is lower than 18 mEq/L
How is diabetic ketoacidosis treated?
If a person is diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), emergency treatment is required and will likely include:
- Fluid replacement: Replacing fluids lost through frequent urination to help dilute excess sugar in the blood
- Electrolyte replacement: Replacing electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and chloride, which helps the nerves, muscles, heart, and brain function properly
- Insulin therapy: Reverses the triggers that cause DKA by impairing cell physiology
- Medicines for underlying conditions: May include antibiotics for an infection
What are potential complications of diabetic ketoacidosis?
Potential complications of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) include:
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels)
- Hypokalemia (low blood potassium levels)
- Cerebral edema (swelling in the brain)
- Pulmonary edema (fluid inside of the lungs)
- Damage to the kidneys and other organs
If left untreated, DKA can lead to loss of consciousness and death.
Latest Diabetes News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetic-ketoacidosis.html
Diabetes & DKA (Ketoacidosis). American Diabetes Association: https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/dka-ketoacidosis-ketones
Brunilda Nazario. Diabetic Ketoacidosis. WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/ketoacidosis
Diabetes-Related Ketoacidosis (DKA). Cleveland Clinic: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21945-diabetic-ketoacidosis-dka
Top What Is the Survival Rate of Diabetic Ketoacidosis Related Articles
Diabetes Tips: Managing and Living With DiabetesIf you have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you need to approach life differently. Learn nutrition tips to control blood sugar, ways to manage your insulin, hyperglycemia triggers like stress, and what to do when traveling with diabetes. Discover the various symptoms of diabetes, how they put your body at risk, and steps you can take to live better with diabetes.
Can You Survive Diabetic Ketoacidosis?Because it typically takes hours for DKA to become life-threatening, you can survive the condition by acting quickly and receiving timely medical treatment.
Body Blood Sugar LevelsHigh blood sugar can be a sign of diabetes or prediabetes. The drugs that treat it sometimes cause low blood sugar too. WebMD helps guide you through the effects of both.
Diabetes QuizTake the Diabetes Quiz and learn the causes, signs, symptoms, and types of this growing epidemic. What does diabetes have to do with obesity and diet? Learn about life as a diabetic.
12 Ways Sugar Harms Your BodyThe bitter truth: How too much sugar can harm your physical and mental health.
Diabetes Treatment: Medication, Diet, and Insulin
The major goal in treating diabetes is controlling elevated blood sugar without causing abnormally low levels of blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes is treated with:
- and a diabetic diet.
Type 2 diabetes is first treated with:
- weight reduction,
- a diabetic diet,
- and exercise.
When these measures fail to control the elevated blood sugar, oral medications are used. If oral medications are still insufficient, insulin medications are considered.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Complications)Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a complication of type 1 diabetes that is life threatening. If a person thinks they may have diabetic ketoacidosis they should seek medical care immediately. Diabetic ketoacidosis happens when a person's insulin levels in the blood become dangerously low.
Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include dehydration, abdominal pain, confusion, and nausea and vomiting.
Diabetic ketoacidosis needs medical treatment. It cannot be treated at home.
Insulin Pump for DiabetesAn insulin pump is designed to deliver insulin directly to a patient with diabetes. They are about the size of a standard beeper. The pump is attached to under the skin (usually on the abdomen). The amount of insulin required will depend on lifestyle (exercise, sleep patterns, activity level, and diet).
Type 1 DiabetesWhat is type 1 diabetes? There are new treatments for juvenile diabetes, and more people with diabetes can be treated than ever before. Learn the symptoms of T1D, the causes, and find ways to control your blood glucose levels naturally.
Type 1 Diabetes QuizWhat are the causes of type 1 diabetes? Take this quiz and challenge your knowledge of causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments for this common condition, formerly known as juvenile diabetes.
Diabetes Urine TestsUrine tests for individuals with diabetes is important to check for diabetes-related kidney disease and severe hypoglycemia. With proper monitoring of blood glucose levels, diabetic-kidney disease can be avoided.
What Should I Do If I Have Ketones in My Urine?If your urine reports show moderate or high levels of ketones, consult your doctor right away.
What Tests Are Done for Diabetes?Diabetes can cause serious complications if left untreated, which is why timely diagnosis is important. Learn about tests for type II, type I, and gestational diabetes.
Which Type of Diabetes Is Worse for COVID?COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is a mild illness in most people. People with type 1 diabetes have 3.5 times the risk of dying compared to people without diabetes and people with type 2 diabetes have double the mortality risk with this viral infection.
Why Are Ketones Bad?Ketones, also called ketone bodies or keto acids, are a type of water-soluble compound produced from the fat breakdown in the body. Although ketones are a normal product of metabolism, they may be produced in excess in certain situations, such as diabetes.