March 30, 2022

Study links COVID-19 to greater diabetes risk

Editor's Note

This cohort study by researchers at the VA Saint Louis Health Care System and Saint Louis University finds that after the first 30 days of infection, COVID-19 patients have increased risks and burdens of incident diabetes and antihyperglycaemic use.

A total of 181,280 COVID-19 patients in the US Department of Veterans Affairs national database along with 4,118,441 contemporary control and 4,286,911 historical control patients without COVID-19 were included in the analysis. Participants in all three groups were free of diabetes before cohort entry and were followed for a median of 352 days.

Among the findings:

  • Those with few or no risk factors for diabetes had a greater risk for the disease after being infected with COVID-19 (HR 1.40) and an excess burden of antihyperglycaemic use (13.46).
  • COVID-19 patients who were treated in the ICU had a greatly increased diabetes risk, compared to those without COVID-19. This higher risk may be a result of treatment with steroids, which can raise blood glucose levels.

Though the mechanisms underpinning the link between COVID-19 and risk of diabetes are not entirely clear, the findings show that diabetes should be considered a component of long COVID-19, the researchers say.

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