About half of people hospitalized with COVID-19 develop hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) within a few months of infection. In the future, this could lead to an increase in the number of patients with diabetes mellitus, as Italian scientists warn.
The study assessed the health of 551 people hospitalized in Italian hospitals from March to May 2020. Within 6 months of admission to hospital, 46% of patients showed an increase in blood glucose levels, while 35% of them persisted hyperglycemia for at least 6 months. These people also had other serious complications, such as increased oxygen and ventilation requirements, worsening clinical symptoms, and the need for intensive care, MedicalXpress reported.
In addition, patients with hyperglycemia showed abnormal hormonal levels: too much insulin was produced in their bodies, indicating a dysfunction of the pancreas. They also showed severe abnormalities in the amount of inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin IL-6. Patients who received drugs that lower IL-6 levels coped better with hyperglycemia.
Although glucometabolic abnormalities decreased over time in some patients, many patients continued to suffer from elevated postprandial glucose levels. The study authors predict that the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a serious increase in the number of people with diabetes worldwide.