Fact Check: 95% Of Covid Hospitalized Have Underlying Condition, Mostly Insulin Resistance

Fact Check: 95% Of Covid Hospitalized Have Underlying Condition, Mostly Insulin Resistance

covid insulin

Medical staff transport a covid-19 patient at Bron airport near Lyon, France, Nov. 16, 2020. (Philippe Desmazes, Pool via AP)

Severe covid-19 illness has been linked to underlying medical conditions with 95 percent of 540,667 hospitalized patients having at least one underlying medical condition, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC studied 540,667 adults hospitalized with covid-19 in 800 hospitals for a year from March 2020 to March 2021.

Hypertension (50.4 percent) and lipid metabolism disorders (49.4 percent) were the most frequent underlying conditions, while the strongest risk factors for severe covid-19 illness were linked to obesity (33 percent), diabetes with complications and anxiety disorders.

The study noted that covid-19 triggers insulin resistance in patients, causing chronic metabolic disorders that were nonexistent prior to infection.

Insulin resistance is what happens when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver can’t use glucose from your blood for energy. To make up for it, your pancreas makes more insulin and your blood sugar levels go up over time. Most doctors are aware of the insulin resistance concept, but it’s never measured in routine clinical practice, making it difficult to determine its utility in predicting covid-19 severity, as compared to hypertension, diabetes and obesity, according to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Risk factors of insulin resistance that can make this condition more likely include obesity (especially belly fat), an inactive lifestyle and a diet high in carbohydrates, according to Web MD.

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Overall, diabetes was noted as an underlying condition for approximately four in 10 patients. Among people younger than 65 who died from covid-19 infection, half had diabetes, according to the CDC.

Scientists and clinicians said there’s no question that people with diabetes who don’t have their glucose under control face much greater danger from covid-19 than others.


“Once someone with diabetes or obesity become infected with Covid-19, their consequences are not generally as good,” said Daniel Drucker of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

“People with diabetes and obesity were more likely to be hospitalized,intubated, and more likely to have higher death rates.”

People who are obese generally have a lower cardiorespiratory health, meaning their movement is restricted due to poorer lung function, sleep apnea and blood vessel disease.

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“All these things are important when you become unwell. You should be able to breathe. You need to have optimal circulatory function, “said Drucker. “This means when we get covid-19 our immune system is already compromised because it’s already being set off inappropriately by the presence of obesity.”

Janelle Ayres, a professor at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, pointed out that covid-19 and diabetes are similar in that the organ systems targeted by the coronavirus are the same ones compromised by diabetes. So having diabetes could make for a more severe disease.

Age, sex, severe obesity and diabetes are well-established risk factors in the severity of covid-19 infections.

However, it’s not yet clear how much insulin resistance contributes to these.