An analysis of 15 states in America has revealed that nearly 40% of COVID-19 victims had diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scanned through 10,000 death certificates in locations including New York City between February to May.
It comes as an investigation by news agency Reuters discovered similarly high rates of diabetes in people who had died from coronavirus in 12 states including Washington and District of Columbia.
Diabetes has been identified as a risk factor for severe symptoms of coronavirus, due to high baseline inflammation generally in people with diabetes and also higher blood sugar levels. However, keeping diabetes under control is among the best defences against COVID-19.
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The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that half of the people aged under 65 who died with coronavirus had diabetes.
Commenting on the findings, Professor Elbert Huang, who is the director of the University of Chicago´s Center for Chronic Disease Research and Policy, said: “Diabetes was already a slow-moving pandemic. Now COVID-19 has crashed through like a fast-moving wave.”
Separately, Reuters combined through state data and found almost 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths involved people with diabetes in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina, as well as South Carolina and West Virginia – an area described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the “diabetes belt”.
Doctors and nurses in these areas have claimed that they have struggled to keep patients’ blood glucose levels under control in the absence of face-to-face appointments during the coronavirus pandemic.
Nurse practitioner Sarah Hunter Frazer, from the Medical Outreach Ministries clinic for low-income residents in Montgomery, Alabama, said diabetes is commonplace in her coronavirus patients. She tries to keep in touch on the phone and via video calls but said she does meet her patients “under a shade tree behind the clinic”.
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It has been reported that many people with severe episodes of coronavirus were in good health before being diagnosed with the virus.
Clark Osojnicki, 56, from Minnesota, had glucose levels in a healthy range before contracting the virus. He was running with his dog three days developing a fever and shortness of breath due to COVID-19. He sadly died on April 6 from a blood clot in his lungs.
Now healthcare professionals fear that the global pandemic may lead to a rise in diabetes-related complications.
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Professor Andrew Boulton, who is from University of Manchester and is also president of the International Diabetes Federation, said: “My fear is we will see a tsunami of problems once this is over.”