Covid raises risk of diabetes, heart disease months after infection: Study

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As the cases of coronavirus recede across the world while some countries still struggle to manage the outbreak, a new study raises concerns for those infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. Patients who contracted the virus have a higher risk of developing diabetes and heart conditions months after being infected, reported India Today.

Researchers at Kings College London have found that the risk was higher in the first three months after getting infected by SARS-CoV-2 and the levels could only return to baseline after 23 weeks for diabetes, and seven weeks for cardiovascular diseases. The study hints at long-term risk for people affected by the virus.

The study published in the journal Plos Medicine states that diabetes incidence remained elevated for at least 12 weeks following Covid-19, before declining.

Researchers also noted that people without pre-existing cardiovascular disease or diabetes who suffer from Covid-19 do not appear to have a long-term increase in the incidence of these conditions.

The information provided by this very large population-based study on the longer-term effects of COVID-19 on the development of cardiovascular conditions and diabetes will be extremely valuable to doctors managing the millions of people who have had COVID-19 by now. “It is clear that particular vigilance is required for at least the first 3 months after COVID-19,” Professor Ajay Shah, BHF Chair of Cardiology and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine said in a statement.

Researchers analysed medical records of 4,28,000 Covid-19 patients and an equal number of control individuals categorised by age, sex, and family practice. The analysis revealed that Covid-19 patients had 81 percent more diagnoses of diabetes in the first four weeks after contracting the virus and that their risk remained elevated by 27 percent for up to 12 weeks after infection.

The virus also led to a six-fold jump in cardiovascular diagnoses overall, mainly due to the development of blood clots in the lungs and irregular heartbeat. The risk begins to decline five weeks after infection and returned to baseline levels or lower within 12 weeks to one year, reads the report.

“Whilst it is in the first four weeks that Covid-19 patients are most at risk of these outcomes, the risk of diabetes mellitus remains increased for at least 12 weeks. Clinical and public health interventions focusing on reducing diabetes risk among those recovering from Covid-19 over the longer term may be very beneficial,” Emma Rezel-Potts, lead author of the paper said.

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