Long COVID-19 Patients At Greater Risk Of Developing Type 2 Diabetes: Study

People who got infected with COVID-19 have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who have not contracted the novel coronavirus, researchers said in a new study. 

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

This is the type of disease that occurs when there is an impairment in how the body regulates and uses glucose as fuel, resulting in the levels of sugar rising in the blood. 

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, the hormone that regulates the movement of glucose into the cell. The cells in the body also respond poorly to insulin, causing them to take in less glucose, as per Mayo Clinic

Also called adult-onset diabetes, this condition does not have a cure, and it can affect the circulatory, nervous and immune systems. However, eating right, exercising and managing the condition through medication and insulin therapy help people live with the disease.

Diabetes And COVID-19

A new study published Monday in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology presented evidence suggesting that people with long COVID are also likely to develop type 2 diabetes. 

According to the researchers, diabetes was among the conditions that long COVID patients experienced as part of post-acute sequelae. The disease started manifesting within a year after the onset of the viral infection. 

The researchers examined data from more than 181,000 Department of Veterans Affairs patients diagnosed with COVID-19 from March 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021. They compared their records with information from more than 4.1 million patients who did not get infected during the same period and another 4.28 million VA patients who received medical care from the facility in 2018 and 2019. 

After analyzing the data, the team found that the COVID-19 patients were 46% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes for the first time after their bout with SARS-CoV-2. The elevated risk was present in those who had mild or asymptomatic cases, and it went up for those who had severe COVID. 

Implications Of The Study

The study was able to identify a strong association between COVID-19 and type 2 diabetes, but it did not prove a cause-and-effect link between the two. 

The researchers indicated that by reporting the increased risk of incident diabetes in long COVID patients, they are prompting the medical community to also pay attention to the identification and management of diabetes when dealing with patients with post-acute COVID-19.

“For the broader public, if you’ve had COVID-19, you need to pay attention to your blood sugar,” VA St. Louis Health Care System research and development chief and study lead Ziyad Al-Aly told The Washington Post

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