Call for ‘international efforts’ to examine Covid-19 and new-onset diabetes link

Experts say that growing numbers of people with new-onset diabetes linked to COVID-19 means there is an “urgent need” for research into the phenomenon.

A comprehensive review led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East Midlands has explored ‘COVID-19, hyperglycaemia and new-onset diabetes’. An international team of researchers says that early identification and treatment of people who fall into this category could improve their long-term outcomes.

Several studies conducted during the pandemic have reported that COVID-19 is associated with hyperglycaemia in people with and without known diabetes. Authors of this latest research also acknowledge that the phenomenon of new-onset diabetes following hospital admission has been seen with other viral infections. The perspective, published in the American Diabetes Association’s journal, Diabetes Care, explores four possible reasons for the link between COVID-19 and new-onset diabetes. These are

  • Pre-existing undiagnosed diabetes. People admitted to hospital may have had undetected diabetes before admission, which could result from recent weight gain due to lifestyle changes and worsening of hyperglycaemia due to self-isolation, social distancing, reduced physical activity, and poor diet linked to mental health issues.
  • Stress hyperglycaemia and new-onset diabetes following acute illness. The phenomenon of hyperglycaemia and new-onset diabetes following admission to hospital with acute illness has previously been identified. In COVID-19, stress hyperglycaemia may be even more severe due to the cytokine storm – an inflammatory syndrome.
  • Viral infections and new-onset diabetes. Viral infections may affect the pancreas. Previous studies have reported acute inflammation in the pancreas due to other viruses.
  • In hospital steroid-induced hyperglycaemia. Steroid-induced hyperglycaemia is common in hospitalised patients. Previous studies have shown that between 53 and 70 per cent of non-diabetic individuals develop steroid-induced hyperglycaemia.

The authors also focused on the management of people with new-onset diabetes following COVID-19 and made a series of recommendations for future research.

To read the review in full, CLICK HERE.

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