Controlling blood glucose may improve treatment for people with diabetes who develop COVID-19

Therapy Breakthroughs 4. dec 2020 1 min MD and PhD Andreas Andersen Written by Sabina Askholm Larsen

Researchers from Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen and others are investigating how blood glucose affects the heart’s pumping function among people with diabetes who are hospitalized with COVID-19. In the Forskningsfortællinger podcast (in Danish), you can hear how the researchers will investigate whether controlling blood glucose can improve treatment for these people.

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Several international studies suggest that people with diabetes may have a more severe COVID-19 trajectory than people without diabetes. However, researchers do not yet clearly know why. To examine the connection between diabetes and COVID-19 in greater depth, researchers from Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen have set out to investigate how blood glucose affects the heart’s pumping function among people with diabetes who are hospitalized with COVID-19.

The GLYCOVID-19 research project is being carried out in collaboration with the Department of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Cardiology at Hvidovre Hospital and the Intensive Care Unit at Gentofte Hospital. Thus, several experts in both diabetes and heart research have joined forces to investigate the interaction between blood glucose, heart pumping function and COVID-19.

One of these experts is Andreas Andersen, a doctor and PhD employed at Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen. In the Forskningsfortællinger podcast, Andreas talks about the knowledge underpinning the research project and the preliminary results.

Blood glucose control is crucial

The GLYCOVID-19 project aims to provide deeper understanding of the role of blood glucose control among people with diabetes hospitalized with COVID-19. Studies indicate that these people may benefit from having their blood sugar raised to the level they had before admission – even if that level was high.

“The evidence suggests that when the heart is used to having a high energy supply because blood glucose is very high, then suddenly lowering blood glucose in connection with, for example, hospitalization, may possibly have a negative and paradoxical effect on heart pumping function. This does not mean that a person with diabetes should strive to have high blood glucose. The recommendation is still clear: generally try to be well regulated, also in connection with COVID-19. However, in connection with hospitalization, something can possibly be done to optimize treatment,” explains Andreas Andersen.

Forskningsfortællinger also interviews Tanja Thybo, Head of Research at the Danish Diabetes Association. She explains how the Association contributes to research that benefits people with diabetes, including knowledge about the connection between diabetes and COVID-19.

You can also find Forskningsfortællinger on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other podcast apps (only in Danish).

Tina Vilsbøll from Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen has received DKK 2,992,500 from the Novo Nordisk Foundation for the project ”GLYCOVID-19”. The funding came from the Foundation’s emergency coronavirus initiative to mitigate the adverse health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Andreas Andersen is also working on the “GLYCOVID-19” project which is conducted in collaboration with Hvidovre Hospital and Gentofte Hospital.

Andreas Andersen specializes in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular complications and arrythmia.

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