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- A metabolic acidosis characterized by the triad of hyperglycemia (glucose >250 mg/dL), metabolic acidosis (arterial pH ≤ 7.3, serum bicarbonate ≤ 18 meq/L) and moderate ketonuria or ketonemia
- Most, but not all, patients have type 1 diabetes
- Patients with type 2 diabetes also susceptible during acute illness (especially of African American or Hispanic descent) referred to as "ketosis-prone type 2 diabetes," likely due to greater relative insulinopenia.