A new European study states that risk of death is high among people living with diabetes when they are infected with COVID-19.
The study notes that one in every five hospitalised COVID-19 patients with diabetes die within 28 days of admission.
Experts say this is unsurprising, online health portal, WebMD reports.
A director of critical care services at the Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York City, Dr. Mangala Narasimhan, says, “Diabetic patients are clearly in a very high-risk category and should be among the first groups of people to get the vaccine.”
She also advises people with diabetes to make sure that they are in control of their blood sugar levels and to avoid any complications of the disease.
Such steps “seem to really make a difference in terms of survival from COVID infection,” said Narasimhan, who wasn’t involved in the new study.
The research was led by Bertrand Cariou and Samy Hadjadj, diabetologists at the University Hospital Nantes in France.
In May of last year, they had released preliminary findings that showed that 10 percent of COVID-19 patients with diabetes died within seven days of hospital admission.
The newer, updated results are from a larger number of patients — close to 2,800 — treated for COVID-19 at 68 hospitals across France. Their mean age was 70, nearly two-thirds were men, and many were overweight.
About 40 percent were also experiencing various forms of complications from their diabetes.
During the 28 days after their admission to a hospital, 21 percent of patients died, the French team reported on February 17 in the journal Diabetologia and titled, ‘New data on COVID-19 patients with diabetes show that one in five die within 28 days of hospital admission.’
Of those patients who survived at least one month, 50 percent were discharged from the hospital with a median stay of nine days; 12 percent were still hospitalised at day 28, and 17 percent had been transferred from their first hospital to another facility.
Younger age, routine diabetes therapy using the drug metformin, and having had symptoms longer prior to hospital admission were key factors associated with a higher likelihood of being discharged from the hospital, the researchers said.
Patients who regularly took insulin — possibly indicating more advanced diabetes — had a 44 percent higher risk of death than those who didn’t take insulin, the investigators said.
Long-term blood sugar control wasn’t associated with patient outcomes, but a higher level of blood sugar at the time of hospital admission was a strong predictor of death and of a lower chance of discharge.
Dr. Barbara Keber directs family medicine at Glen Cove Hospital in Glen Cove, N.Y. Reading over the findings, she said they show “diabetes is clearly a significant risk factor for both need for ICU/ventilator care in the hospital as well as for death” within a month of admission.
Keber said it “makes sense” that people with complications from poorly controlled diabetes are at higher risk, since this creates a “pro-inflammatory state” that is similar to that seen in advanced COVID-19.
But Keber also cautioned that death rates may have improved for COVID-19 patients, including those with diabetes, over the past year.
“This study was done in the first wave of the pandemic, and many of the current treatment regimens and medications that were tried in the early phase have been found to not be beneficial and other treatment regimens have taken their place,” she noted.
For example, “the current use of steroids for treatment may play a role in the [improved] prognosis of patients overall and especially for those with diabetes,” Keber said.
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