In patients diagnosed with COVID-19, those who also have diabetes appear to have more severe symptoms, rapid progression, and a worse prognosis. According to a study published in Diabetes Metabolism Research and Reviews, researchers found biomarkers to suggest patients with diabetes showed a rapid progression of COVID-19 compared to patients without diabetes.
The study was lead by Weina Guo from Tongji Medical College at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China. In total, 174 patients who were admitted to Wuhan Hospital from Feb. 10, 2020, through Feb. 29, 2020, were analyzed. The group of patients included 37 people who had been previously diagnosed with diabetes, and overall, the median age was 61years.
A significant elevation of inflammation biomarkers in blood serum samples from COVID-19 were found in patients with diabetes. Researchers believe these patients were more likely to experience a rapid progression of COVID-19 disease than patients without diabetes. The biomarker elevations include an overall count of neutrophils in patients with diabetes compared with those without diabetes.
Guo and his colleagues point out another significant finding, which includes more prominent radiologic abnormalities in the chest computed tomography images of COVID-19 patients with diabetes. This helps to show the increased severity of pathological changes to the lungs.
“Dysregulation of glucose metabolism will aggravate diabetes and then affect the severity of pneumonia, which works as an amplification loop,” Guo writes. “Meanwhile, the diabetic complications signify the severity of diabetes, and these patients with diabetic complications showed a higher mortality rate, which further proves that diabetes is a risk factor for the prognosis of COVID-19, and the severity of diabetes is positively correlated with the poor prognosis.”
Pre-Existing Health Conditions
During this time, the population needs to know who is more at risk. Many pre-existing health conditions can make people more susceptible to the virus, and diabetes is one of them. Health care professionals need to support those with conditions such as diabetes during this time.
To help support those working with patients with diabetes, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) has released clinical recommendations related to people with diabetes and COVID-19. Some of those recommendations include urging all patients to continue to take all medications as prescribed to ultimately help maintain a well-functioning immune system. They are also recommending people be fully prepared for an emergency situation by having stocked supplies such as insulin.
Patients should become familiar with their individual state’s department of health website as some are providing the opportunity to purchase an additional 30-day supply of insulin and other medications during a state of emergency.
Everyone, including those with pre-existing conditions, should stay at home as much as possible and regularly wash hands for at least 20 seconds. The more information patients have about how best to prepare and to protect themselves, the less likely they are to feel anxious or powerless during the COVID-19 pandemic.