This Condition Makes You Four Times More Likely to Die From Coronavirus
Those with diabetes have a higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19.
The coronavirus has infected millions of people across the globe—affecting various people differently, as evident in the fact that some people develop symptoms while others show no noticeable signs of illness. However, as researchers continue studying the new virus, they have identified certain preexisting health conditions that may make a person more prone to experiencing severe, sometimes fatal, complications from COVID-19—one of which is diabetes.
According to research published in the Journal of Infection on April 23, after reviewing 13 relevant studies, people with diabetes are nearly four times more likely to have a severe, even fatal, case of COVID-19 compared with patients without the underlying health condition.
"When patients are combined with basic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, the body is in a state of stress for a long time and the immunity tends to be low," study authors wrote. "Moreover, the long-term history of diabetes and hypertension will damage the vascular structure, and it is more likely to develop into a critical disease in infection."
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) says that people with diabetes are not more likely to get the coronavirus compared to the general population, just that they may face worse outcomes if they do become infected. One serious side effect, for example, is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
"DKA can make it challenging to manage your fluid intake and electrolyte levels—which is important in managing sepsis," the ADA says. "Sepsis and septic shock are some of the more serious complications that some people with COVID-19 have experienced."
What's more, research published on June 4 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, says that patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who also have diabetes make up more than 20 percent of those in intensive care units (ICU). One contributing factor as to why this is the case is that medications used to treat the coronavirus, like glucocorticoids and hydroxychloroquine, affect blood glucose levels. Therefore, COVID-19 patients with diabetes need to receive glucose-lowering therapies, like glucose monitoring and insulin administration, which may require being admitted to the ICU.
Researchers from this study did find, however, that patients with well-managed diabetes may fair better than those who have the disease less under control. The authors said patients who are "knowledgeable, competent, and clinically stable," may be able to use diabetes self-management, in which case they monitor their own blood glucose and administer their own insulin. This also helps health care professionals better adhere to recommendations that they minimize patient interactions as a way to avoid their own exposure to COVID-19.
"Your risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 is likely to be lower if your diabetes is well-managed," the ADA adds. "When people with diabetes do not manage their diabetes well and experience fluctuating blood sugars, they are generally at risk for a number of diabetes-related complications." And for more on what makes you more susceptible to a severe case of COVID-19, check out These Are the Things That Increase Your Risk of Dying From Coronavirus.