The Blood Sugar Level That Quadruples COVID Death Risk

High blood sugar puts COVID patients at high risk of needing a ventilator or admission to an intensive care unit.

High blood sugar puts COVID patients at high risk of needing a ventilator or admission to an intensive care unit.

COVID patients with high blood sugar, whether they have diabetes or not, suffer worse outcomes and increased risk of death.

Hyperglycemia or high blood glucose is a condition that happens when not enough insulin is produced or used by the body.

However, stress, certain medications, illness, lack of exercise, and excessive eating can lead to this condition.

A study examined the effect of hyperglycemia in coronavirus patients and found that these patients experienced worse health problems, no matter if they were diabetics or not.

Patients hospitalised for COVID who had high blood sugar were more likely to be put on a ventilator or admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), develop an acute kidney injury (AKI), and die in hospital.

Dr Samara Skwiersky, the study’s lead author, said:

“COVID-19 patients presenting to the hospital with hyperglycemia require closer observation, as they are likely to require more aggressive therapies.”

The research team looked into undesirable COVID outcomes in 708 adults by measuring their blood glucose levels.

Hospitalisation of a patient with diabetes is recommended when the blood glucose values are between 140 and 180 mg/dL.

The study found that diabetes patients with a blood glucose value of over 140 mg/dL were 2.4 times more likely to need a breathing machine and be admitted to ICU.

The undesirable COVID outcomes got worse in diabetic patients with blood glucose levels of over 180 mg/dL as they were twice as likely to die in hospital.

However, patients who were not diabetics, but had a blood glucose level of over 140 mg/dL, were twice as likely to die of COVID.

Also, the odds of intubation and developing AKI were increased by 2.3 times and the risk of ending up in ICU was 3.5 times higher for these patients.

The odds of intubation and ICU admission was almost tripled and death risk was quadruple for those without diabetes but with a blood glucose level of over 180 mg/dL.

Dr Skwiersky said:

“The results from our study, reiterate the importance of regularly monitoring blood glucose in patients hospitalized with COVID-19, even without a prior diagnosis of diabetes.”

She added:

“More frequent glucose monitoring and treatment with insulin therapy to a target glucose value less than 140 mg/dL could improve outcomes in these patients.”

About the author

Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.

The study was presented at ENDO 2021, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting.

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