Dead in Bed Syndrome
Dead in bed syndrome is a term used to describe the sudden unexplained deaths of young people with type 1 diabetes.
The syndrome is characterised as when someone with insulin dependent diabetes has gone to bed seemingly perfectly fine and has been found dead in an undisturbed bed.
How common is dead in bed syndrome?
The syndrome is relatively rare but is thought to account for about 6% of cases of all deaths in under 40 year old people with type 1 diabetes.
By comparison, diabetic ketoacidosis is a significantly more common cause of death, accounting for around 2% to 3% of all deaths in diabetic patients.
What causes dead in bed syndrome?
There is currently little understanding of the syndrome, however, a few theories have been put forward. One theory conjects that deaths could be caused by night time hypoglycemia triggering disturbances in heart rhythm. Another theory extends the idea suggesting that neuropathy may disrupt activity of the nerves to the heart.
Can dead in bed syndrome be prevented?
How the syndrome can be prevented does depend on whether the theories are true.
Given that the most popular theory is that it is caused by hypoglycemia, it is thought that avoiding nocturnal hypoglycemia is the best way to prevent dead in bed syndrome.
Dead in bed syndrome and human insulin
One theory suggests that dead in bed syndrome has become prevalent as a consequence of human (synthetic) insulin being used.
However, no research has been conclusive in suggesting that dead in bed syndrome could be a side effect of human insulins.
Can people with type 2 die from dead in bed syndrome?
There have not been any significant reports about dead in bed syndrome applying to people with type 2 diabetes.