Diabetes worsens COVID-19 outcomes

July 12, 2021

JEFFERSON CITY- More than a year into the global pandemic, many things are still unknown about COVID-19. However, like many other illnesses, studies are showing that having diabetes is not only tied to a worse prognosis, but also an increased risk of death.

Diabetes is more common among those with severe COVID-19. One study from Diabetologia showed that 24 percent of patients with moderate-severe COVID-19 also had prediabetes. Data from hospitals in Wuhan showed that those with diabetes were more likely to require admission to an intensive care unit. Studies in England showed that for patients with COVID-19 in the hospital, the risk of death was more common in those with uncontrolled diabetes.

There are many factors that impact prognoses and risk of death from COVID-19, but doctors are seeing worse outcomes for people with multiple conditions, including diabetes, at play. Prevalence of diabetes increases with age and weight and can also be tied to other diseases like heart diseases. With each additional factor, risk of a more severe case of COVID-19 increases.

The impact of diabetes on disease does not only exist in regards to COVID-19. Having diabetes or prediabetes negatively affects health outcomes across the board. Diabetes can increase risk for many serious health problems including diabetic neuropathy, kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, heart attacks and more.

"Every year, an estimated 38,000 people in Missouri are diagnosed with diabetes,” said Joyce Hoth, Public Health Program supervisor at the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services. “Even more (one in three) are at high risk for developing diabetes. Most of these individuals do not even know they are at risk. It is important to know that there are resources available to help individuals make healthy lifestyle changes that can have a huge impact on their health."

Luckily, people vulnerable to Type 2 diabetes can reverse their risk. The National Diabetes Prevention Program is a research-based program focusing on healthy eating and physical activity which showed that people with prediabetes who take part in a structured lifestyle change program can cut their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent (71 percent for people over 60 years old). Visit reverseyourrisk.com to find a program, resources and to take a short risk quiz to see if you are at risk for developing diabetes.