According to a new study, diabetics who have poorly managed their blood sugar levels over the long term are nearly 50% more likely to wind up in intensive care if they contract COVID-19. The study looked at several potential impacts to COVID-19 severity in diabetes patients and also found the common diabetes control medications could help lower the severe risk for diabetics.
The study published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care looked at records for more than 16,000 people with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 between 2017 and 2020. Patients were divided up into two groups; those with “adequate” longitudinal glycemic control ranging from 6 to 9% and those with “poor” glycemic control of 9% or above for over two to three years.
The data analysis revealed that those with poor glycemic control were 48% more likely to require treatment in an intensive care unit if they had COVID-19. The findings also showed that people with diabetes taking the common drug metformin when they contracted COVID-19 faced a 12% lower risk of visiting the ICU. Those who were taking metformin and insulin had an 18% lower risk, and those prescribed corticosteroids had a 29% lower risk.
Not All Diabetics Are the Same
From the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, it was clear that diabetics were being affected by the virus, but this study was able to show that not all patients were affected the same.
Bowen Wang, the first author of the study, explained, “Some people have a longer history of diabetes, some have more severe diabetes, and that has to be accounted for. What this study does is better to stratify the level of diabetes within the population, so diabetic patients aren’t treated as a single population without any difference among them.”
This study offers a viewpoint of how COVID-19 affects type 2 diabetics by showing the difference in how the disease has been managed over time. It is essential to understand how the virus affects those in specific populations to help with the prevention of severe outcomes.