A retrospective observational study done in persons with the COVID-19 infection has drawn a clear association between high three-month average sugar levels (HbA1c) and the severity of the disease in type-2 diabetics.
The results, published recently in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Scientific Study, suggested that the prognosis of COVID-19 severity in diabetic patients showed higher risk based on a HbA1c level of 9% or more.
“Uncontrolled type-2 diabetes might be responsible for an overall higher hospitalization rate in cases of COVID-19 infection,” its author V. Balaji, of the Dr. V. Seshiah Diabetes Care and Research Institute, states. He goes on to hint that focusing on the pre-existing comorbid risk factors among diabetic patients can be used to manage the severity of the viral infection and can minimize the socio-economic burden.
A total of 120 post-COVID type-2 diabetes patients were included in the study conducted between March and October 2020, of which 102 were hospitalised and 18 were home quarantined based on the severity of COVID-19. Among hospitalised patients, a majority were men with other pre-existing comorbidities, commonly hypertension and cardiac conditions. All of them recovered from the infection.
“Using pre-infection glycemic control data, we found HbA1c was a clear predictor of COVID-19 severity,” the study outlined, mentioning other clinical characteristics which were also significantly linked to hospitalisation, including gender, age, pre-existing conditions like obesity , hypertension, thyroid and cardiovascular disease. Unexpectedly, obesity and male gender were not associated with hospitalisation, despite being suggested as risk factors in earlier studies. Patients with long term uncontrolled HbA1c level (greater than 9%) need more attention, as they are prone to hospitalization and severe disease.
The findings of the present study will help in planning a comprehensive support strategy for individuals with diabetes in the healthcare sector, and set regular monitoring of sugar levels and HbA1c as the cornerstone of interventions.