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Covid patients with high blood sugar levels more likely to enter ICUs and die

Study urges monitoring for Hyperglycemia when patients arrive at hospital, whether diabetic or not

The patient who is usually admitted to intensive care for coronavirus is usually a man, over 60 years old and with previous pathologies. This profile is maintained from the first wave and, little by little, scientific literature reveals which are these basic diseases that condition the prognosis and recovery. Now, a retrospective study by the Spanish Society of Internal Medicine (SEMI) confirms that suffering from hyperglycemia - excessive levels of glucose in the blood - is associated with a greater need for mechanical ventilation, a greater risk of being admitted to the ICU and even a greater risk of dying. The results of the research have been published in the academic journal Annals of Medicine.

The main objective of the study, which has been carried out in several Spanish hospitals, is to evaluate the relationship between blood glucose levels and hospital mortality in covid patients who have needed to be admitted to hospital. To do so, the research group evaluated clinical data from a total of 11,312 patients who had required conventional hospitalisation and classified them into three groups according to their blood glucose levels when they arrived.

After adjusting parameters for age and other factors such as diabetes or hypertension, the group found that the cumulative probability of mortality is significantly higher in patients with hyperglycemia compared to patients who do not have such high levels. Of the 11,312 patients, 18.9% had diabetes and 20.4% died during hospitalisation. The hospital death rate was 15.7% with patients with blood glucose levels below 140 mg/dl; 33.7% for those with blood glucose levels between 140 and 180, and 41.4% in patients with 180 mg/dl of blood glucose.

Thus, the researchers conclude that detection of hyperglycemia, whether patients have diabetes or not, and early treatment of this disorder "must be mandatory in the management of hospitalised patients with covid".

The coordinator of the study and of the Diabetes, Obesity and Nutrition Group of the SEMI, Dr Javier Carrasco, has recommended that all patients with covid-19 be tested for blood glucose and that, should the levels be high, a doctor be consulted. "Diabetic patients may need to intensify treatment in the early stages of the disease and non-diabetic patients may need to start treatment," he explained.

This research is part of more than 70 ongoing projects related to the SEMI-COVID-19's Registry, which contains data on more than 17,000 patients with coronavirus infection and the participation of nearly 900 doctors from 214 hospitals across the state.

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