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New study suggest people previously infected with COVID-19 could have increased risk for diabetes

New study suggest people previously infected with COVID-19 could have increased risk for diabetes
New study suggest people previously infected with COVID-19 could have increased risk for diabetes 02:27

An alarming new study out of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center suggests that people who have previously been infected with COVID-19 could stand at increased risk for new-onset diabetes. 

The study's results, conducted by investigators at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai "have confirmed that people who have had COVID-19 have an increased risk for new-onset diabetes — the most significant contributor to cardiovascular disease."

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles County has reported 3,690,901 infections, pointing to a concern that some doctors who conducted the study have, as they believe most American will at one point experience a COVID-19 infection.

"Our results validate early findings revealing a risk of developing Type 2 diabetes after a COVID-19 infection and indicate that this risk has, unfortunately, persisted through the Omicron era," said Dr. Alan Kwan, the author of the study and a cardiovascular physician at Cedars-Sinai. "The research study helps us understand — and better prepare for — the post COVID-19 era of cardiovascular risk."

The study also suggests that the risk of Type 2 diabetes appears to be lower in those who had already been vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to their infection.

In order to determine the data, investigators "evaluated medical records from 23,709 adult patients who had at least one documented COVID-19 infection and were treated within the Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles from 2020-2022."

They determined that: 

  • the combined risk of Type 2 diabetes after COVID-19 exposure was 2.1%, with 70% occurring after COVID-19 infection versus 30% prior to exposure. This accounts for both vaccinated and unvaccinated patients. 
  • the risk of Type 2 diabetes after exposure for unvaccinated patients was 2.7%, with 74% occurring after infection versus 26% prior to exposure. 
  • the risk of Type 2 diabetes after exposure for vaccinated patients was 1.0%, with 51% occurring after infection versus 49% prior to exposure.

"These results suggest that COVID-19 vaccination prior to infection may provide a protective effect against diabetes risk," Kwan said. "Although further studies are needed to validate this hypothesis, we remain steadfast in our belief that COVID-19 vaccination remains an important tool in protecting against COVID-19 and the still uncertain risks that people may experience during the post-infection period."

While investigation remains, Dr. Susan Cheng, the senior authority of the study and director of Cardiovascular Population Sciences at the Smidt Heart Institute, says that the findings can help broaden the medical field's findings and understanding of COVID-19. 

"Although we don't know yet for certain, the trends and patterns that we see in the data suggest that COVID-19 infection could be acting in certain settings like a disease accelerator, amplifying risk for a diagnosis that individuals might have otherwise received later in life," Cheng said. 

Diabetes currently affects approximately 26 million Americans. 

The findings were published today in the JAMA Network Open journal. 

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