Published on 13 May 2022

Study reports serious complications of Covid-19 more likely among people with diabetes.

A worldwide study of the impact on Covid-19 for people with diabetes revealed alarming statistics for serious complications among people with the condition following a diagnosis of the virus.

However, the study conducted by researchers from the University of Aberdeen which reviewed data from hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, also found that good management of the condition could also reduce these risks. 

The report from the study, recently published in Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, found that people with diabetes were almost twice as likely to die with Covid-19 and almost three times as likely to be critically or severely ill compared to those without diabetes.

Specifically, the collaboration with King’s College, London, found that while diabetes presents a significant risk of severe illness and death with Covid-19, good control of blood sugar in these patients could significantly reduce this risk.  

Since being recognised as a global pandemic from March 2020, the researchers reviewed findings from 158 studies that included more than 270,000 participants from all over the world to determine how Covid-19 affects people living with diabetes.  

The collected results found that people with diabetes were 1.87 times more likely to die with Covid-19, 1.59 times more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit, 1.44 times more likely to require ventilation, and 2.88 times more likely to be classed as severe or critical, when compared to patients without diabetes.  

A man wearing a face mask

This is the first time a study looked at the risks of Covid-19 in patients with diabetes while factoring in the patients’ location and thereby highlighting potential healthcare resources available, as well as possible ethnic differences and other societal factors. 

Figures were gathered from all over the world including China, South Korea, USA, Europe and the Middle East.  

The researchers found that patients in China, South Korea and the Middle East were at higher risk of death than those from EU countries or the USA. 

The researchers suggested this may be due to differences in healthcare systems and affordability of healthcare which may explain the finding that maintaining optimal glycaemic control, significantly reduces adverse outcomes in patients with diabetes and Covid-19. 

Stavroula Kastora, who worked on the study alongside Professor Mirela Delibegovic and Professor Phyo Myint, said: “We found that following a Covid-19 infection, the risk of death for patients with diabetes was significantly increased in comparison to patients without diabetes. 

“Equally, collective data from studies around the globe suggested that patients with diabetes had a significantly higher risk of requiring an intensive care admission and supplementary oxygen or being admitted in a critical condition in comparison to patients without diabetes.  

“However, we found that the studies that reported patient data from the EU or USA displayed less extreme differences between the patient groups.  

“Ultimately, we have identified a disparity in Covid-19 outcomes between the eastern and western world.  

“We also show that good glycaemic control may be a protective factor in view of Covid-19 related deaths. 

 “In light of the ongoing pandemic, strengthening outpatient diabetes clinics, ensuring consistent follow up of patients with diabetes and optimising their glycaemic control could significantly increase the chances of survival following a Covid-19 infection.” 

Read the report in Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism

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