For coronavirus patients with diabetes, blood sugar control is key, China study reveals

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People with Type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of a poor outcome if they become infected with the novel coronavirus -- and controlling blood sugar levels is especially key if they do, a new study revealed.

A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism provides evidence that those with Type 2 diabetes (T2D) who maintain control over their blood sugar level will fare much better than people with poorly controlled blood sugar.

"We were surprised to see such favorable outcomes in [the] well-controlled blood glucose group among patients with COVID-19 and pre-existing Type 2 diabetes," senior study author Hongliang Li, at Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, said in a statement.

Scientists examined a cohort of 7,336 COVID-19 patients with or without T2D from 19 hospitals in Hubei Province, China.

Their data showed that people admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 and T2D required more medical interventions. Despite these interventions, they also had significantly higher mortality -- 7.8 percent versus 2.7 percent -- as well as a greater incidence of multiple organ injury, according to the study.

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A new study reveals the risks of COVID-19 transmission for those with type 2 diabetes.

A new study reveals the risks of COVID-19 transmission for those with type 2 diabetes. (iStock)

However, those with well-controlled blood sugar who had COVID-19 were less likely to die than those whose blood glucose was poorly controlled. Meanwhile, those with well-managed T2D also received fewer medical interventions including supplemental oxygen and/or ventilation and had fewer health complications.

"Considering that people with diabetes had much higher risk for death and various complications, and there are no specific drugs for COVID-19, our findings indicate that controlling blood glucose well may act as an effective auxiliary approach to improve the prognosis of patients with COVID-19 and preexisting diabetes," the study found.

According to experts, risk factors for dying from COVID-19 include the prevalence of diabetes, obesity and hypertension. The virus has devastated African-American and Hispanic communities in several states.

“The alarming COVID-19 mortality rate in America’s communities of color can be directly attributed to problems with health access and resources – the same issues which link these communities to disproportionately high rates of diabetes and related chronic diseases. Those with the fewest resources are the least likely to have access to quality health care, and COVID-19 testing is no exception," Tracey Brown, president and CEO of the American Diabetes Association, said in a statement to Fox News.

“In order to tackle America’s systemic health inequity problem, we must meet those who are most at risk in their community. Greater accessibility and availability to COVID testing is critical in order to slow the rampant spread of COVID-19 in minority communities. When disadvantaged Americans’ are forced by circumstance to delay testing, they risk dangerous health outcomes for themselves, their families and their communities," Brown explained.

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Overall, researchers said their work offers a few core messages for those with diabetes: They should take extra precautions to avoid becoming infected with COVID-19 due to the higher risk of severe complications or dying after being infected, and those with diabetes should take extra care to keep their blood sugar under good control during the pandemic.