Among COVID-19 cases, the two most common underlying health conditions are cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Hospitalisation was six times higher among patients with a reported underlying condition than those without reported underlying conditions. And worryingly deaths were twelve times more likely among patients with underlying health conditions than those without.
Two thirds of people in the UK who have fallen seriously ill with COVID-19 were overweight or obese, and 99% of deaths in Italy have been in patients with pre-existing conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. These conditions, collectively know as metabolic syndrome, are linked to impaired immune function, and more symptoms and complications from COVID-19.
A major driver of metabolic disease is insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, by keeping levels low in the blood. When we become resistant to insulin, our blood sugar levels rise. This leads to inflammation and plays an important role in respiratory disease. Left unchecked, this resistance to insulin results in type 2 diabetes.
How do we know if we are insulin resistant?
Many of us don’t realise we are insulin resistant. People diagnosed as type-2 diabetic do, but about one third of people with diabetes don’t know that they have the disease. And 35% of the UK population are prediabetic, meaning they are insulin resistant and have abnormal levels of sugar in the bloodstream.
Why is important to know?
It is important to know if you are insulin resistant as a recent study¹ showed that people with increased levels of sugar in the blood have an elevated risk of mortality from COVID-19. This is also have an increased risk of mortality for pneumonia, stroke and heart attack.
What this means is that if you have high blood sugar levels due to insulin resistance, you have an increased risk of serious outcomes from contracting COVID-19.
Test your blood sugar levels
Having a test to measure your haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) will show your average blood sugar level for the past 2 to 3 months and is used to diagnose type-2 diabetes or prediabetes. It is an indicator of how resistant you’ve become to insulin.
¹ Wang, S., Ma, P., Zhang, S., Song, S., Wang, Z., Ma, Y., Xu, J., Wu, F., Duan, L., Yin, Z., Luo, H., Xiong, N., Xu, M., Zeng, T. and Jin, Y., 2020. Fasting blood glucose at admission is an independent predictor for 28-day mortality in patients with COVID-19 without previous diagnosis of diabetes: a multi-centre retrospective study. Diabetologia,.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will arrange a simple pin-prick blood sample test to find out your HbA1c level to measure your risk of insulin resistance, prediabetes or type-2 diabetes.