Type 2 Diabetics Twice as Likely to Die from COVID-19

Type 2 Diabetics Twice as Likely to Die from COVID-19

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Patients with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to die from the coronavirus – and being obese increases the risk even further, research has revealed.

A third of deaths from the virus have occurred among individuals with diabetes, which is linked to excess weight and a lack of exercise.

The study by the NHS and Imperial College London also found that those with Type 1 diabetes –which is not linked to obesity – were three and a half times more likely to die, the Daily Mail reported.

The findings provide further evidence that certain groups of patients are at much higher risk of suffering fatal complications.

But they also suggest that lifestyle strongly influences someone’s susceptibility to the virus.

Lead researcher Professor Jonathan Valabhji, the NHS’s national clinical director for diabetes and obesity, analyzed the deaths of 23,804 patients in England from coronavirus between March 1 and May 11.

Professor Valabhji, also a consultant diabetologist at Imperial College Hospitals, found that 31.4 per cent had Type 2 diabetes and 1.5 per cent had Type 1.

The study also found that patients with Type 2 diabetes doubled their risk again if they were severely obese, with a body mass index (BMI) above 40.

They were twice as likely to die than those patients with the condition who were in the overweight or normal category. Patients with Type 2 diabetes who also had high blood glucose levels because their condition was poorly controlled increased their risk of death by another 60 per cent.

Professor Valabhji said: ‘This research shows the extent of the risk of coronavirus for people with diabetes and the different risks for those with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Importantly, it also shows that higher blood glucose levels and obesity further increase the risk in both types of diabetes.

‘This can be worrying news but we would like to reassure people that the NHS is here for anyone with concerns about diabetes – and has put extra measures in place to help people and keep them safe, including online sites to support people to care for themselves, digital consultations, and a dedicated new helpline for advice and support for people treated with insulin.’

The Government is carrying out a major review into whether obesity, ethnicity and gender increase their chances of dying or becoming severely ill with the virus.

The findings, which are due within the next few weeks, could influence whether these groups are given tailored advice regarding social distancing and working in non-frontline NHS roles.

At least 3.9 million Britons have diabetes and the number has doubled in the past 20 years in line with rising levels of obesity.

Up to 90 per cent have Type 2 which usually develops after the age of 40 but is being increasingly seen in children and teenagers.

Bridget Turner, director of policy at Diabetes UK, said: ‘This new data sheds much-needed light on which groups of people with diabetes are more likely to experience poor outcomes if they catch coronavirus.

It also shows that the risk of death for people with diabetes is higher than for people without the condition – with the risk for people with Type 1 being higher than for those with Type 2 – and that a history of higher blood sugar levels as well as obesity seem to be contributing factors.

‘It’s very important to remember that the risk of dying from coronavirus – for people with and without diabetes – remains very low, and that as cases of coronavirus decline, the risk to everyone of catching the disease will reduce in turn.’

It's become clear that coronavirus attacks the heart as well as the lungs, and one of its harmful effects on a cardiac chamber may predict who dies of the infection, a new study suggests.

Researchers at Mt Sinai University Icahn School of Medicine in New York followed the conditions of 110 hospitalized coronavirus patients and their prior medical records.

Nearly 62 percent of patients with enlarged right ventricles - a chamber of the heart that pumps oxygen-poor blood to the lungs - died, according to an article that's been accepted to a journal, but not yet published.

It comes as the US coronavirus death toll tops 90,000 and doctors continue to search for clues as to why some patients suffer only minor symptoms and others die of the infection.

Of the 110 patients that the Mt Sinai researchers recruited to their study, 21 ultimately died.

Early data out of China suggested that 19 percent of coronavirus patients had heart issues, and it's a trend doctors across the US have since noted too.

So often is the case, that many US doctors are putting coronavirus patients on blood thinners as a matter of course, because many have developed potentially deadly clots.

Doctors closely monitor coronavirus patients for signs that their hearts may be under attack from the coronavirus.

All 110 patients in Mt Sina's study - which has been accepted to the journal JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, but not yet published - had indicators that suggested their hearts could be struggling and were given echocardiograms (EKGs) to assess their cardiac function.

Thirty percent of the patients given EKGs were already in critical condition, on ventilators to help them breathe.

EKGs revealed that 31 percent of the patients had 'right ventricular dilation,' meaning the lower right chamber of each heart was larger than normal.

Enlarged right ventricles are not typically a sign of heart disease itself. Instead, they usually signal that another condition is stressing the heart.

The patients with enlarged right ventricles were no more likely to have other health conditions, out-of-control inflammation or be on blood thinners than were other patients.

What's more, the researchers did not find higher rates of enlarged left ventricles.

It's not clear exactly why right ventricle, specifically, seemed to suffer more distress.

The research team suspects that multiple factors contribute to the development of the enlarged right chamber, including: low oxygen levels that trigger a tightening of blood vessels, direct damage from the virus, damage from inflammatory immune cells called cytokines and blood clots.

Scientists believe that coronavirus fights its way into human cells by binding to a receptor called ACE2, which is found most prevalently in the lungs, but is also on the surface of blood vessel cells.

Other studies have suggested that the virus's attacks on the blood vessels can lead to all of the conditions that, in turn, the Mt Sinai researcher think contribute to enlargement of the right ventricle.

Forty-one percent of the patients with enlarged right ventricles died of coronavirus, compared to just 11 percent of those whose right ventricles looked normal on the EKG.

EKGs are easy to perform bedside, meaning infected patients don't have to be transported out of their rooms, potentially exposing other patients and more hospital staff, and the new study suggests that performing the imaging exam might help doctors predict when someone with coronavirus is about to take a turn for the worse.

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