Compromised immunity along with the withdrawal of certain medications poses an increased risk to diabetic patients who contract coronavirus, experts said on Friday.
According to the serological surveillance report submitted by the Delhi government in the High Court on Wednesday, it was stated that diabetes mellitus was observed to be a risk factor for subclinical infection.
Dr. Vimal Gupta, Senior Consultant, Endocrinology, Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj said the coronavirus, besides affecting the lungs, also affects the pancreas.
"It has been observed that it causes pancreatitis in some patients. The pancreas secretes insulin but the virus decreases the secretion of insulin which regulates glucose levels, thus increasing sugar levels in patients. Many patients become diabetic for the first time after being infected," he added.
Gupta said most of the diabetic patients in India are having obesity and other co-morbid conditions.
"SGLT2 inhibitors and some other drugs, which reduce the weight and regulate sugar levels, cannot be given if a patient has coronavirus. When we withdraw the drugs, diabetes level is increased," he said.
Sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors are a group of medications used for treating type 2 diabetes.
Dr. B L Sherwal, Medical Director of Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, said sugar levels are bound to increase due to stress in a disease like COVID-19.
"Immunocompromised patients are at greater risk due to the virus. The mortality in such patients will be more because their immunity is low and additional care is to be taken," he added.
"Extra efforts have to be taken for the treatment of such patients. If we look at the data of the patients who die, the majority of those are having uncontrolled diabetes," Dr. Sherwal further said.