Diabetes appears to be a risk factor for more sickness and death in patients with COVID. Several studies suggest a relationship between poor control of blood sugar and severity of COVID outcomes. A study from the United Kingdom showed that people with diabetes with an HbA1c above 7.5% have higher risk from COVID, but their risk is much lower if their HbA1c is between 6.5 and 7.0%. Other researchers have not found a specific HbA1c level at which COVID risk begins to rise.
In a new study from the United States, researchers looked at the relationship between HbA1c and severity of COVID outcomes in patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D). Patients were ≥18 years old with T2D and confirmed COVID. The main outcome was their risk of death within the first 30 days after a diagnosis of COVID. The study included nearly 40,000 patients (51% female, 55% White, 26% Black or African American, and 16% Hispanic/Latino, with an average age of 62 years). Researchers found an increasing risk of hospitalization as HbA1c levels rose, but risk of death leveled out at an HbA1c above 8%.
Additional risk factors for death included being older, male, and Hispanic/Latino.
Overall, these results suggest that for people with diabetes, an HbA1c above 7.5-8% increases the risk for severe complications from COVID. Every effort should be made to support people with diabetes, especially those who are Hispanic/Latino, to achieve lower HbA1c levels.
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