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Risk of diabetes & heart disease higher after Covid infection, but only for a short while

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LONDON: Since the pandemic began, we have learned a lot about the disease behind it. We now view COVID-19 not just as a respiratory disease, but as a multisystemic condition.

Many studies have reported complications that can result from a serious COVID infection, such as heart failure or worsening of existing diabetes.

Heart disease and diabetes belong to a group of common but often preventable conditions called cardiometabolic diseases. While these immediate complications remain a priority, we also know that the virus can affect people’s health many months after the initial infection.

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Findings from US Department of Veterans Affairs databases have revealed an increased burden of various conditions, including heart disease and diabetes, for up to six months after contracting COVID. Meanwhile, a UK preprint (study yet to be peer-reviewed) reported that cardiovascular complications were elevated up to 49 weeks after infection.

Overall, however, very few studies have looked at long-term cardiometabolic outcomes after COVID. Therefore, in our new study, we aimed to learn more about heart disease and diabetes risk within one year of contracting COVID. We found that while the risk was higher shortly after COVID, it declined again within a year.

We used a national database of electronic primary health care records covering over 13 million people in the UK. Of these, we identified over 428,000 COVID patients and selected the same number of control participants (who had no reported COVID diagnosis) matching age, gender, and GP clinic.

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We then looked at whether patients with COVID developed diabetes and heart disease more frequently. We analyzed data from one year before their COVID infection (from the date of infection of their equivalent participant for the respective controls) and up to one year after that. Accounting for this baseline meant we could more accurately identify any post-COVID changes.

We found that heart disease and diabetes were slightly higher among COVID patients in the year prior to infection compared to controls. We included this baseline risk and other key factors that may affect the results, such as BMI and blood pressure, in our analysis.

The risk of diagnosing heart disease and diabetes was highest in the first four weeks after exposure to the virus. During this period, we identified 81% more diabetes diagnoses compared to the control group. The risk remained elevated by 27% between 4 and 12 weeks post infection and returned to baseline at 23 weeks.

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Meanwhile, we saw a sixfold increase in heart disease diagnoses within four weeks of contracting COVID. The biggest risk was for a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs), which increased 11-fold. Heart disease diagnoses dropped from five to 12 weeks after infection and returned to baseline levels from 12 weeks to one year after that.

We have indeed observed that the risk of heart disease fell below baseline within a year of contracting COVID. This may be due to increased engagement with healthcare related to COVID.

Do you want to protect yourself from diabetes? Eat walnuts, apples, carrots

Products for diabetics

While being active, drinking fluids, and checking your blood glucose levels can do wonders, it’s important to stick to a meal plan that will prevent diabetes in the long run.

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A recent study found that antioxidant-rich walnuts can nearly halve your risk of type 2 diabetes.

For diabetic patients, the ideal diet should be 1200-1600 calories per day. Diabetics are encouraged to eat good carbohydrates, fats, and healthy proteins, but in small portions.

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Doctors and nutritionists share a definitive list of foods you should be consuming to stay healthy.

Also read: The Complete Guide to Diabetes

Nuts and seeds

With the news that walnuts are the new superfood for preventing diabetes, it’s time to take a look at other superhero nuts and seeds. They have a protective effect for people with diabetes. Flax/flax seeds, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts, pistachios, cashew nuts, chia seeds, etc. are the best nuts and seeds for diabetics as they lower and regulate insulin levels in the body.

eggs

They are a good source of protein of high biological value. Eggs contain good cholesterol, also called high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is good for heart health. Studies have shown that it improves insulin sensitivity. They make you feel full and raise your blood sugar levels.

Turmeric

It contains an active compound called curcumin, which improves blood sugar levels, promotes cardiovascular health, and protects against kidney disease.

Wild salmon and fish with omega-3 fatty acids

Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), which are beneficial for diabetics. Patients need good fat in their diet, and fish reduces inflammation and coronary risk, both of which are common in diabetes.


How it works?
Research shows that SARS-CoV-2 can directly infect pancreatic cells, resulting in reduced insulin production. When we don’t have the right level of insulin to regulate our blood sugar levels, this can lead to diabetes. COVID infection can also reduce physical activity, another factor we know of that can affect blood sugar levels.

It is also worth noting that medical consultations related to COVID may have provided additional opportunities to detect previously undiagnosed diabetes. So it is possible that COVID infection did not cause diabetes in all cases.

Likewise, various factors are likely to be at work in relation to the risk of heart disease. We know that COVID can cause damage to organs, including the heart. The immune response to a COVID infection, which kicks off a process called inflammation, is also important. This process may affect some of our cells that are important for heart function.

The differences we have seen in the timing of heart disease and diabetes risk are perhaps not surprising, given what we know about how these conditions typically present. Heart disease is associated with incidents (such as a heart attack) that can lead to faster diagnosis, while diabetes can take time to be diagnosed, possibly contributing to later risk reduction.


Some restrictions


Although electronic health records have been a powerful tool in allowing us to analyze a large group of people over time, the limitation of this type of source is that we can only use the data it contains. For example, we did not have information about alcohol consumption or physical activity that could affect the results.

It is also possible that in some cases the risk status was misclassified. For example, control patients may have had COVID but were not tested and did not notify their GP.

In addition, we must be aware of the limitations of observational studies. We can’t say that COVID necessarily caused this spike in heart disease and diabetes diagnoses — there was just a connection.

While we don’t exactly understand why we’re seeing these trends, the fact that the risk of heart disease and diabetes declined within a year of contracting COVID is reassuring.

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It appears that patients are most at risk during the first four weeks after contracting COVID, especially for pulmonary embolism and diabetes diagnoses. Because the risk of diabetes remains high for at least three months, clinical interventions and public health interventions to reduce the risk of diabetes, such as advice on healthy eating and exercise, may be targeted to recovering COVID patients.

And if you have recently recovered from COVID, you should especially carefully monitor your health. Seek medical attention if you feel something is wrong.

(The article was distributed by PTI through The Conversation)

Reduce sugar intake, lose weight and quit smoking: lifestyle can help you get rid of diabetes

The fight against diabetes

Today, diabetes is one of the fastest growing health problems in India.

The rise in the prevalence of diabetes is primarily due to a combination of factors such as rapid urbanization, sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy diets, tobacco use, and even increased life expectancy.

While there are certain factors that cannot be changed, such as your genes, age, or past behavior, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of diabetes.

Dr. Varsha Khatri, Head of Medical & Science at Roche Diabetes Care India shares some simple ways to not only reduce the risk of diabetes, but also prevent it.

Get rid of excess fat

One of the main causes of diabetes is body weight. Being overweight is a big risk factor for developing diabetes.

According to WHO studies, every kilogram of weight lost reduces the risk of developing diabetes by 16 percent. Moving towards a healthy weight helps control blood sugar levels.

Your doctor, dietitian, and fitness trainer can help you come up with a plan that’s right for you.

Cut sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet

Eating sugary foods and refined carbohydrates can put people at risk of developing diabetes. The human body quickly breaks down these foods into small sugar molecules that are absorbed into the bloodstream. The resulting rise in blood sugar stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin, a hormone that helps sugar move from the bloodstream to the body’s cells. The body’s cells are resistant to the action of insulin, so blood sugar levels remain high in prediabetic patients. To compensate, the pancreas produces more insulin in an attempt to lower blood sugar to a healthy level.

Over time, this can lead to a gradual rise in blood sugar and insulin levels until the condition eventually develops into type 2 diabetes. Replacing sugar or refined carbohydrates with foods that have less of an impact on blood sugar may help lower your risk of developing diabetes.

stress management

Stress affects people with diabetes, including type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and prediabetes. If you have diabetes, stress can affect your blood glucose levels. Managing stress in diabetes is another way to work on controlling your blood glucose levels.

Drinking alcohol and smoking

Unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol can make diabetes and its complications worse. Too much alcohol can cause chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which can impair its ability to produce insulin and potentially lead to diabetes. What’s more, smoking is bad for your health, whether you’re a diabetic or not. Smokers are twice as likely to develop diabetes than non-smokers. Smoking increases the risk of all health problems associated with diabetes, such as kidney disease, nerve damage, and leg and foot infections.

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