Obesity and diabetes are important risk factors for severity of COVID-19, according to the results of a new study.

The study also revealed that patients with diabetes and coronavirus infections need continuous glucose monitoring and insulin to better manage both their chronic illness and their infection. These findings suggest that case management of diabetic patients is extremely important during the pandemic, given the additional risks it poses to these patients’ health. (The study is available online at: https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/41/3/bnaa011/5820492.)

“We find extensive shared pathways between genes and proteins important for the pathophysiology and treatment of diabetes, and the mechanisms used by coronaviruses for infection and inflammation,” says Daniel J. Drucker, senior scientist, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

Drucker suggests that case management and self-management of patients at risk of COVID-19 might include:

  • Patients staying in regular contact with their healthcare providers;
  • Patients keeping a detailed list of their medications;
  • Contacting their provider and increase glucose monitoring if they are not eating normally;
  • If hospitalized for COVID-19, making their doctors aware of their diabetes, medications, and any adjustments to their usual diabetes care regimen.

Keep in mind that there is no evidence that any diabetes medication is helpful or harmful against coronavirus infection. “However, some medicines may need to be adjusted or discontinued in ill patients admitted to the hospital, or in people at home who are not eating and drinking normally,” Drucker says.

“There are indicators that simple measures, such as taking temperature daily, recording heart rate, or examination of changes in patterns of blood glucose measurements, can be useful in detecting signs of early infection,” Drucker adds.