Is Covid-19 causing high sugar among patients? | Mumbai News

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Jun 13, 2020

MUMBAI: Could Covid-19 trigger a sugar imbalance in patients? For the past seven months, doctors across the world have said diabetic patients are at a higher risk of Covid-related complications, and now there is a growing school of thought that the novel coronavirus could be affecting the pancreas and causing hyperglycemia or high levels of sugar among patients.
The experience in the city’s civic hospitals is that patients are brought in with “uncontrolled sugar” at around 400-500 mg/dL. Endocrinologist Shashank Joshi, dean of Indian College of Physicians, said, “Not only do patients come in with high glucose levels, they also have elevated pancreatic enzymes.”
As pancreas produce insulin that regulates blood sugar, the new medical thought process is that the working of the pancreas gets affected by Covid-19. Now, an international group of diabetes researchers from across the world has set up a registry to study the link between Covid-19 and hyperglycemia.
In a letter published in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ on Saturday, a group of 17 experts involved in this CoviDiab Registry project said, “It is still unclear how SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, impacts diabetes.”
They said previous research has shown that ACE-2, the protein that binds to the coronavirus to enter human cells, is not only located in the lungs, but also in organs and tissues involved in glucose metabolism such as the pancreas, the small intestine, the fat tissue, the liver and the kidney. They believe that by entering these tissues, the virus adversely affects the glucose metabolism in the body.
Dr Joshi said, “This blood sugar imbalance could be transient or it could trigger diabetes at a later date in the patient.”
Physician Dr Hemant Thacker said a temporary rise in sugar levels cannot be called diabetes. “We need to follow up patients after six months or more before making such a statement,” he said, adding diabetes is in control in several Covid patients admitted under his care.

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