Local endocrinologist explains growing evidence of troubling link between COVID-19 and diabetes – Community News
Covid-19

Local endocrinologist explains growing evidence of troubling link between COVID-19 and diabetes

SAN ANTONIO – According to one of San Antonio’s top endocrinologists, multiple studies show a troubling link between COVID-19 and new diabetes.

dr. Carolina Solis-Herrera, an endocrinologist at University Health’s Texas Diabetes Institute and department chief of endocrinology at UT Health San Antonio, explained the link in a new Q&A from University Health.

You can watch the full video in the player above.

Solis-Herrera said studies have shown that 14% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 developed type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

One of the theories revolves around how the virus attaches to the body’s ACE2 receptors.

ACE2 stands for angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 and it is a protein on the surface of many cell types, including the lungs, intestines, pancreas and heart.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus attaches to the ACE2 receptors and then invades the cells. The virus also prevents ACE2 from doing its job to regulate processes such as blood pressure, wound healing and inflammation. dr. Solis-Herrera says this is why COVID-19 leads to complications such as pneumonia in the lungs and myocarditis in the heart.

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dr. Solis-Herrera said autopsies of COVID-19 patients have shown physical evidence of direct damage to the pancreas, specifically the beta cell that produces insulin.

“So we think this may be directly related to that insulin deficiency and the development of diabetes in these patients,” Solis-Herrera said.

Some people may be more vulnerable to developing diabetes after having COVID-19, and they include people who are already at risk of developing diabetes — patients with a family history of diabetes, who are obese or lead a sedentary lifestyle, and those with prediabetes , which is abnormal glucose but not yet in the diabetes range.

dr. Solis-Herrera regrets that the COVID-19 pandemic has also been difficult for people who already had diabetes, as many people postponed their medical care before vaccinations were readily available.

“And so we saw a spike in complications, complications and diabetes and other chronic diseases like heart failure and patients would come to the hospital much sicker. Fortunately, now, with telemedicine vaccinations, people are getting so much more medical care than they were last year,” Solis-Herrera said.

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