COVID-19 More Likely To Seriously Affect People With High Blood Sugar, Study Warns

A new study suggests that hospitals should check the blood sugar levels of patients with COVID-19 to increase their chances of surviving the disease. Researchers in China have found that people with hyperglycemia are two times more likely to die from a coronavirus infection or develop serious complications. The new study, published in the journal Diabetologia, shows a link between abnormally high blood sugar and poor outcomes in COVID-19 patients. The findings come from the analysis of data from two hospitals in Wuhan, China, between January and February. 
Researchers gathered data from 605 COVID-19 patients without any history of diabetes. The team looked into their mortality, fasting blood glucose (FBG) levels, in-hospital complications and CRB-65 scores, which help assess the severity of pneumonia. During the study, 114 patients died while in the hospital; 208 had one or more underlying conditions, such as high blood pressure. Many patients who either experienced serious complications or died appeared with high FBG levels.

More than 50 percent of the coronavirus patients had normal FBG range of 6.0 mmol/L or below. But 29 percent had the highest FBG of 7.0 mmol/L on admission, which put them closer to being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Another 17 percent had blood glucose levels of 6.1-6.9 mmol/L, which was close to being pre-diabetic. Researchers said those in the highest FBG group were 2.3 times more likely to die from COVID-19 and their chances of having complications were four times higher. The risk of death was higher in men than women in all groups.

Researchers then looked into the link between elevated blood sugar levels and high CRB-65 scores or worse pneumonia. Patients with high CRB-65 were also at higher risk of death because of the coronavirus infection. However, the patients with the lowest or even zero CRB-65 scores were still likely to die because of increased FBG levels.

"This study shows, for the first time, that elevated FBG at admission is independently associated with increased 28-day mortality and percentages of in-hospital complications in COVID-19 patients without previous diagnosis of diabetes," the researchers said in a press release. "We have also shown that FBG of 7.0 mmol/L or higher is associated with increased mortality, regardless of whether the patient has pneumonia that is more or less severe."

Abnormally high blood sugar or hyperglycemia affects patient mortality in several ways. It potentially contributes to changes in clotting times, worsening of endothelial function and overproduction of inflammatory cytokines, which all have been observed in many COVID-19 patients. "Blood sugar testing and control should be recommended to all COVID-19 patients even if they do not have pre-existing diabetes, as most COVID-19 patients are prone to glucose metabolic disorders," the researchers said. "During a pandemic of COVID-19, measuring fasting blood glucose can facilitate the assessment of prognosis and early intervention of hyperglycemia to help improve the overall outcomes in treatment of COVID-19."

diabetes The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are more than 100 million adults living with diabetes or prediabetes in the U.S. Pixabay

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