Diabetes Could Be Main Factor Behind Accelerated Progression of COVID-19

By Megan Brooks

July 05, 2021

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Diabetes appears to be the primary factor for accelerated progression of COVID-19, according to a study of Japanese patients.

"Among Japanese patients, dysglycemia may constitute the largest risk factor in the evolution of COVID-19 patients to the severe state," said lead researcher Dr. Shizuka Kaneko with the Takatsuki Red Cross Hospital in Osaka in a presentation of the study at the virtual American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions.

She and her colleagues took a look back at 102 patients (51% male; mean age, 62; mean BMI, 27.6) who were admitted to Takatsuki Red Cross Hospital with "moderate" COVID-19 and initially "favorable" oxygen saturation levels. Nearly half (49%) of the patients had type-2 diabetes.

Type-2 diabetes was present in 88% of patients progressing from moderate to severe COVID-19 requiring ventilation, Dr. Kaneko reported. Twenty-five diabetes patients (24.5%) with moderate COVID-19 improved.

There was a significant correlation between progressing from moderate to severe COVID-19 and hemoglobin A1c level of 6.2% or higher, but not with hypertension, BMI, renal failure, lung disease and treatment with insulin. Age and male gender were secondary risk factors for COVID-19 progression.

"Our findings shed light on the combined threat of COVID-19 and diabetes has on global population health and reinforces the importance of diabetes prevention more than ever before," Dr. Kaneko said in a conference statement.

"While future pandemics are unpredictable, diabetes can be effectively managed - which could ultimately have far-reaching impacts on patient outcomes especially during times of public health crisis, like the COVID-19 outbreak," she added.

Dr. Kaneko cautioned in her presentation that a more comprehensive study is needed to further evaluate diabetes as a risk factor for COVID-19 progression.

The study had no commercial funding and the authors have no relevant disclosures.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/2T4HsV6 81st American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions, held June 25-29, 2021.

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