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Controlled blood sugar improves COVID-19 outcomes for diabetics

A new study published by Cell Press confirms the link between type 2 diabetes (T2D) and a greater risk of severe COVID-19 infection. On a positive note, the researchers also found that T2D patients with controlled blood sugar are much more resilient to COVID-19. 

“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,” said study senior author Hongliang Li of Wuhan University. 

“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 pre-existing diabetes.”

Type 2 diabetes affects more than 500 million people worldwide. The experts set out to investigate whether controlled blood sugar may lessen the severity of COVID-19 among T2D patients. 

The researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study focused on more than 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases that had been documented in 19 hospitals across Hubei Province, China. 

Out of the COVID-19 cases examined for the study, 952 patients had T2D and 6,385 patients did not. Among those with diabetes, 282 individuals had well-controlled blood glucose.

Analysis of the data showed that patients admitted with both COVID-19 and T2D required more medical interventions. These individuals also had a significantly higher mortality rate and a greater incidence of multiple organ injury.

On the other hand, patients with well-managed T2D required fewer medical interventions such as oxygen or ventilation and had fewer health complications.

Overall, COVID-19 patients with well-controlled blood sugar were less likely to die than those with poorly-controlled blood glucose.


The researchers said the findings offer three important messages for people with diabetes. First, people with diabetes have a higher risk to die from COVID-19 and develop more severe complications after infection. This means that T2D patients should take extra precautions to avoid becoming infected.

The study also emphasizes the importance of controlled blood sugar during the pandemic. If infected, T2D patients should closely monitor their blood glucose levels. 

The researchers will continue to study the link between T2D and COVID-19 in an effort to learn more about the underlying biology that is leading to poorer outcomes for people with T2D and high blood sugar.

The study is published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer


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