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Recent study confirms individuals with higher blood pressure and higher HbA1c are more likely to have severe COVID-19

severe covid

Investigators of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in October 2023 found that individuals with higher blood pressure and higher HbA1c than the recommended levels were more likely to have severe COVID-19 outcomes compared to patients with blood pressure and HbA1c levels within normal ranges.

In this study, investigators defined patients with severe COVID-19 outcomes as those who either required hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, or who died within the first 60 days of a positive COVID-19 test. In their cross-sectional retrospective cohort study including nearly 1.5 million United States adults with COVID-19 infection, researchers found 13% needed hospitalization, 2% were mechanically ventilated, and 2% died within this time period.

Results showed that patient factors related to more severe COVID-19 outcomes included older age, Black race, male gender, pre-existing comorbidities, and becoming infected with COVID-19 early in the pandemic.

covid and diabetesSpecifically, the study’s authors aimed to examine the association between patients’ blood pressure and HbA1c before the onset of COVID-19 symptoms and the likelihood of later developing severe COVID-19 outcomes.

Results showed that, among those with hypertension, patients with a measured blood pressure of ?160/100 mmHg before COVID-19 infection were more likely to experience hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, and critical care compared to their counterparts with a blood pressure <130/80 mmHg. Likewise, among individuals with diabetes, patients with an HbA1c of ?9% before COVID-19 infection were more likely to require hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, critical care, and mortality compared to diabetes patients with an HbA1c of <7%.

It is widely known that individuals with poorly managed diabetes are at an increased risk of developing severe outcomes from various illnesses and infections, including respiratory illnesses. Numerous studies speculate that chronic inflammation, immune system dysfunction, and comorbid conditions may be to blame. Findings from this study underscore the importance of ongoing diabetes management throughout the year, but especially when rates of respiratory illness are high.

If you are wondering how to navigate getting sick with COVID-19 or any illness while having diabetes, please reach out to your IDS clinician.

Article by IDS Intern, Krystal Bosenbark, MPH, MS

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