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Does Having Diabetes Increase Your Risk of Complications from COVID-19?

Type 2 Diabetes & COVID-19

What is Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a disease where your body is unable to make enough insulin or it does not use the insulin it creates. Insulin is a hormone that helps to control the amount of sugar in your blood. 90% of diabetes cases in Canada are type 2. Individuals have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if they are over 40 years old, have a parent or sibling with diabetes, or are of African, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, Indigenous, or South Asian descent. 

Conditions that can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes:

  • high blood pressure
  • high levels of cholesterol or other fats in the blood
  • a high BMI or being overweight
  • pre-diabetes 
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder)
  • obstructive sleep apnea

Type 2 Diabetes & COVID-19 Risk

Having type 2 diabetes puts individuals at greater risk of severe illness, and serious complications from COVID-19. This includes adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), pneumonia, excessive uncontrolled inflammation responses, and increased tendency towards blood clotting (hypercoaguable state). Furthermore, in-hospital death from COVID-19 can be up to 2.85 times higher in those with diabetes than those without. 

Minimizing Risk of COVID-19

  • Continue efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle; this includes healthy eating and exercise while being mindful of public health messaging to physically distance. 
  • Follow your primary care provider’s instructions with regards to taking your medication, testing your blood sugars and following sick day procedures. Be aware of the signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), as blood glucose management can be more difficult when ill. 
  • If you take blood pressure medication, continue to do so as prescribed. There is no scientific basis for claims that heart medication increases the risk of COVID-19 infection and complications. 
  • Make sure to always have a 30-day supply of medications on hand (i.e. in the event you need to self-isolate due to illness). If you need medical attention, seek the appropriate care (i.e. contact your primary care provider, dial 8-1-1 to speak to a nurse, or dial 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency).

Main Point

Those with underlying chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, are at higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. Follow public health guidelines carefully, and ensure other individuals in your household (or pandemic bubble) do so as well. Do not hesitate to seek appropriate medical attention, as needed. 


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