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New research shows people who had COVID-19 at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes

People who have had COVID-19 are at a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes within a year compared with those who have not been infected, new research published Monday in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology shows.

Researchers reviewed the records of more than 181,000 Department of Veterans Affairs patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 between March 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, and compared them to records from more than 4.1 million VA patients who were not infected during the same period plus 4.28 million others who received medical care from the VA in 2018 and 2019.

The researchers calculated that individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 were 46 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes for the first time or have a doctor prescribe medicine to control their blood sugar, The Washington Post reports. The elevated risk affected people who had mild or asymptomatic cases, and went up for those who experienced severe COVID symptoms.

This study does not prove cause and effect, but rather a strong association between COVID-19 and Type 2 diabetes, the Post notes. While VA patients tend to be older, with more men and white people represented, "the risk was evident in all subgroups," said Ziyad Al-Aly of the VA St. Louis Health Care System, who led the review. Because of that, he is telling anyone who has had COVID-19 to "pay attention to your blood sugar." Read more at The Washington Post.