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Q: insulin effects ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: insulin effects
Category: Health
Asked by: brendajo-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 24 Jul 2002 21:50 PDT
Expires: 23 Aug 2002 21:50 PDT
Question ID: 44880
Can shooting insulin into your bloodstream cause death?
Subject: Re: insulin effects
Answered By: tehuti-ga on 25 Jul 2002 07:38 PDT
Injection of insulin into the bloodstream does form a part of some
medical treatments, however, I assume that you are referring to this
being done by a non-medical person. If, however, you were referring to
medical treatments, please indicate this in a clarification request.

Insulin is normally injected just under the skin or else into muscle
tissue.  The insulin preparations that are normally used are designed
for this route of administration.  Injecting insulin directly into the
bloodstream means that instead of it being gradually absorbed into the
circulation from the tissue, all of it is immediately available in the
blood.  Blood levels of insulin will therefore be much higher
immediately after an injection into the bloodstream than after the
other sorts of injection.  The result will be abnormally high levels
of insulin in the blood.  The result will be a fall in blood glucose
levels to abnormally low levels.  This condition is called
hypoglycemia. patient information about injections at has
this to say about the dangers of someone accidently injecting insulin
into the blood.
“Occasionally an insulin injection can go into the blood vessel
(Vein). This may cause sudden lowering of blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
and the patient can become unconscious. If the patient is uneasy give
him glucose dissolved in water or if unconscious, rush him to a
hospital or a nursing home and inform the doctor about the insulin
injection. Administration of 25% glucose is life saving."

More on the dangers of hypoglycemia is available at  The consequences can
include coma, irregular heart rhythm, and death.  The longer the
hypoglycemia lasts, the greater the risk of permanent neurological

The article at mentioned above also warns of a
potential risk when an untrained person performs any injection into
the bloodstream. "There is a danger of air getting injected which can
cause serious problems sometimes. At the same time very minute bubbles
of injected air are not harmful. Do not worry if you happen to observe
small bubbles of air while receiving intravenous injections. Only a
large quantity of air bubbles (50 cc of air) can be fatal.”

Either way, outside of very specific cases of treatment by qualified
medical personnel, injection of insulin directly into the bloodstream
could indeed cause death.

Search strategy on Google: 1. danger, intravenous, insulin  2.
hypoglycemia, death

Request for Answer Clarification by brendajo-ga on 25 Jul 2002 09:46 PDT
To clarify, the insulin injections were done by a physician.  So the
likelyhood of death by a qualified physician because he knows exactly
what to do and not be detected are very high?

Clarification of Answer by tehuti-ga on 25 Jul 2002 10:49 PDT
Well, insulin overdose has been used as a means of murder both in real
life and in fiction.  If you put the words "insulin" and "murder" into
Google, you will come up with many examples.  However, this would
presumably be done secretly in the hope that it would not be noticed
and another cause of death would be assumed.

Intravenous insulin is used to treat diabetics who have gone into
shock or coma due to very high blood glucose levels.  It is also used
sometimes in the treatment of heart attacks eg "There is recent
evidence that patients who are non-insulin dependent and
hyperglycaemic (random glucose >11) on admission have significantly
reduced mortality if they are given intravenous insulin immediately
post infarction, followed by subcutaneous insulin for at least 3

and also to increase the effect of cancer chemotherapy and other drug
therapy eg  The second reference calls this
a safe procedure, because the patient can be monitored for signs that
too much insulin has been given, and then the effects can be
neutralised by treatment with glucose.

I suppose there could however be a risk of a wrong dose being given in
error and not noticed in some extraordinary circumstances.

Clarification of Answer by tehuti-ga on 25 Jul 2002 12:28 PDT
Although an overdose of insulin can cause death, I think it is
important to emphasize that only a medical professional with all the
details of the case history, lab reports etc, could judge whether a
specific death is due to insulin or to other causes.
Subject: Re: insulin effects
From: renoir-ga on 28 Jul 2002 21:13 PDT
tehuti has done it again!  I'm not the asker, but I would give you five stars
for your research.
Subject: Re: insulin effects
From: tehuti-ga on 29 Jul 2002 08:55 PDT
Thank you, renoir-ga, for your kind comments!  :)

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