Virologists believe that in people with diabetes, the course of COVID-19 pneumonia caused by a coronavirus infection is more severe. Doctors say that patients with endocrine disorders tolerate the disease with more serious complications.
According to scientists, the disease in these patients is much more difficult, and the risk of dying as a result of coronavirus infection is higher. According to Deputy General Director of the Federal State Budgetary Institution Scientific Research Center for Cardiology of the Ministry of Health of Russia, Professor Nana Pogosova, mortality from COVID-19 among patients with chronic diseases is 2-3 times higher, and in the presence of diabetes it is approximately 7.3%.
What is the danger of coronavirus for people with diabetes?
People with diabetes are not more likely to become infected with COVID-19 than the general population, but they are at high risk for complications. According to the results of a study by a group of scientists from China and Germany, complications of coronavirus can provoke an increase in blood glucose levels, as a result of which an overreaction of the body’s immune system can occur.
An international team of scientists has found that in diabetics, as a rule, the immune system is impaired, which greatly complicates the fight against the virus and leads to various complications and a longer recovery period. During the study, scientists found that when a virus enters the body, the immune system begins to actively produce peptide molecules – cytokines. Such molecules can be produced in excessive quantities and attack affected and healthy tissues, as a result of which additional inflammatory processes occur in the body, contributing to a more severe course of the disease.
Researchers conducted experiments with mice. Their results revealed a relationship between cytokine production and blood glucose concentration. In the case of increased glucose concentration in mice, cytokine production turned into a “cytokine storm”. Scientists suggest that the cause of death in patients with COVID-19 was not the virus itself, but the immune response, the so-called hypercytokinemia, when the body kills itself.
Small protein molecules, cytokines, secrete mainly lymphocytes. In a healthy state, the body does not produce them, they are released when infectious and viral agents penetrate. After attaching the coronavirus to the cells, the virus begins to fight the immune system, affecting lymphocytes with the help of toxins. In the case of diabetes, the immune system works hard, it needs more than a few different factors to produce a normal immune response. If a patient has, in addition to elevated glucose levels, lung complications and diseases of the cardiovascular system, it is more difficult to give a normal immune response to such an organism.
The destructive effect of the cytokine storm manifests itself in the lungs and cardiovascular system. The inflammatory process causes the collapse of the alveoli, patients require mechanical ventilation to open the alveoli. Active production of cytokines also causes vasodilation and a decrease in pressure. The heart tries to compensate for this effect, enhances contractions, but at a certain stage it ceases to cope with the load. Such an excessive immune response causes an inflammatory reaction in the heart itself, which ultimately can lead to arrhythmia up to a complete stop of cardiac activity.