People with diabetes are known to be at risk for suffering severe cases of covid-19, but new studies show that the pandemic could also be causing the disease in people who previously did not have issues with high blood sugar.
Of the patients who recovered from covid-19, 14.4 percent developed diabetes, according to an analysis of 3,711 patients in eight different studies by an international group of researchers. The research findings were published on Nov. 27 in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, Washington Post reported.
The researchers said it was possible that some of the patients in the study already had diabetes and were unaware of it until they were hospitalized for covid-19. However, evidence also suggests that covid-19 might be enough to worsen existing metabolic health issues into full-blown Type 2 diabetes.
“Stressful conditions lead to elevated levels of regulatory hormones that raise blood sugar to aid the body in fighting whatever insult it’s facing, such as illness or injury,” Dr. Jose Aleman, assistant professor of endocrinology at NYU Langone Health, told Insider.
“For people with underlying conditions, that can be enough to kick them over the edge,” Aleman said.
African Americans are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes compared to non-Hispanic white Americans, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Data shows that some 4.9 million African-American adults, or 18.7 percent of all African Americans over 20 years of age, have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, compared to 7.1 percent of non-Hispanic white Americans.
Overall, nearly 26 million Americans are living with the disease, and another 79 million have prediabetes.
As cases of covid-19-triggered diabetes increase, it is a genuine concern that more Black people will develop it. The risk is 77 percent higher for African Americans compared with whites.
Back people comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population, but contribute up to 34 percent of covid mortality, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
“These data underscore the reality that social and health inequities predispose (non-Hispanic) Blacks and Hispanics to adverse outcomes of the covid-19 pandemic,” the authors said.
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Francesco Rubino, a diabetes surgery professor at King’s College London, said he’s convinced there is an underlying connection between diabetes and covid-19, Washington Post reported.
Some of the cases reported to his database do not fit the usual profile of Type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, or Type 2, in which people become insulin resistant, he said.
“There’s a good chance that the mechanism of the diabetes isn’t typical,” Rubino said. “There could be a hybrid form. It’s concerning.”