Tool to help manage COVID-19 patients with diabetes
A team from the University of Michigan have developed an algorithm to help treat COVID-19 patients with diabetes. The tool could reduce the risk of complications, such as kidney failure and respiratory distress, in these people.
People with diabetes are one of the groups at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Although people with diabetes are not more likely to contract the disease initially, they are more likely to face worse outcomes.
Complications in people with diabetes include elevation of blood glucose levels, diabetic ketoacidosis, and pneumonia. There is also an elevated risk of more severe outcomes. One study in England found that one-third of COVID-19-related deaths in the hospitals were people with diabetes.
Although scientists do not fully understand why people with diabetes are at increased risk from COVID-19, it seems that high blood sugar levels may be the trigger.
In a new study published in the journal Diabetes, a team from the University of Michigan describes the management of almost 200 COVID-19 hospitalized patients with high blood sugar levels.
From their observations, the team developed an algorithm to help doctors manage the blood sugar levels in people who have COVID-19 and diabetes.
They say the tool could help reduce the risk of severe complications, including kidney failure and severe respiratory distress, in these patients.
The researchers based the report on the experience at the University of Michigan hospital. Michigan has a relatively high number of COVID-19 cases and high rates of complications, with over 93,600 confirmed cases and almost 6,400 deaths at the time of writing.
The University of Michigan hospital treated around 500 patients with COVID-19 from the start of the pandemic to the time of the study. Of these, they knew that roughly a third had diabetes.
The researchers also included additional patients with no history of diabetes who developed high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) while in the hospital.
Clinical tests in these patients suggest that hyperglycemia is associated with damaging inflammatory processes.
“When the body becomes this inflamed, it triggers an abnormal immune response that instead of just attacking the virus, affects the rest of the body’s healthy cells and tissue, leading to rapid deterioration in health,” explains the senior author of the study Dr. Rodica Pop-Busui.
The authors suggest the presence of diabetes may prompt an inflammatory surge in COVID-19, generating worsening insulin resistance and severe hyperglycemia.
This puts people with diabetes (and prediabetes) at higher risk of severe complications from the virus, including kidney failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome — a form of respiratory failure caused by extensive inflammation in the lungs.
Source: Medical News Today