In a recent study published in the journal Medicine PLOSThe researchers warn that three months after recovering from a Covid-19 infection, hospitalized patients are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Scientists hypothesize that because the SARS-CoV-2 virus triggers pathways that can result in inflammation, the infection could affect different organs in the body. In their study, lead authors Emma Rezel-Potts, Martin Gulliford and colleagues at King’s College London, UK, investigated whether a group of former Covid-19 patients developed diabetes or cardiovascular disease in the year following being infected compared with those who had never contracted Covid-19.
They had access to the medical records of more than 428,000 Covid-19 patients and even people who had not tested positive before. The researchers’ investigation revealed that Covid-19 patients had 81% more diabetes diagnoses just four weeks after being infected with the virus. The risk of developing diabetes also increased by 27% for up to 12 weeks after infection.
The researchers also found a link between Covid-19 and cardiovascular disease. A previous infection exposed people to a six times greater risk of suffering from arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats and pulmonary embolism or blood clots in the lungs.
“The information provided by this large population-based study on the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes will be extremely valuable to clinicians managing the millions of people who have had COVID-19 so far. It is clear that special surveillance is needed for at least the first 3 months after COVID-19,” Ajay Shah, co-author of the study, said in a statement.
“Counseling patients recovering from COVID-19 should include measures to reduce the risk of diabetes, including diet, weight control, and physical activity levels, especially in view of the elevated initial risk,” the researchers concluded in their article.
The good news is that the risk of developing recent heart disease appeared to decrease five weeks after infection. Over the next 12 weeks to a year, not only did the risk go down completely, but the probability went down as well.
In a statement released by Medicine PLOS, Rezel-Potts said: “Using a large national database of primary care electronic health records allowed us to characterize the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus during the acute and long-term phases after Covid-19 infection. . While it is in the first four weeks that patients with Covid-19 are most at risk of these outcomes, the risk of diabetes mellitus remains increased for at least 12 weeks. Clinical and public health interventions focused on reducing the risk of diabetes among those recovering from Covid-19 in the long term can be very beneficial.”
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