Patients who contract Covid-19 face a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, particularly in the three months following infection, according to a new study.
Scientists are increasingly recognising Covid-19 as a multi-system condition that can cause disease throughout the body, likely by triggering pathways that cause inflammation.
Researchers from the King's College London, UK, analysed anonymised medical records from more than 428,000 Covid patients, and the same number of control individuals, to probe whether Covid patients developed new cases of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at higher rates than those who have never had the disease in the year following infection.
The analysis, published in the open access journal PLOS Medicine, showed that Covid patients had 81 per cent more diagnoses of diabetes in the first four weeks after contracting the virus and that their risk remained elevated by 27 per cent for up to 12 weeks after infection.
Covid was also associated with a six-fold increase in cardiovascular diagnoses overall, mainly due to the development of pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs) and irregular heartbeat. The risk of a new heart disease diagnosis began to decline five weeks after infection and returned to baseline levels or lower within 12 weeks to one year.
However, the researchers also noted that Covid infection is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disorders and diabetes, but fortunately, there does not appear to be a long-term increase in the incidence of these conditions for patients who have contracted the virus.
Based on these findings, the team recommends that doctors advise their patients who are recovering from Covid to reduce their risk of diabetes through a healthy diet and exercise.
"The information provided by this very large population-based study on the longer-term effects of Covid-19 on development of cardiovascular conditions and diabetes will be extremely valuable to doctors managing the millions of people who have had Covid-19 by now. It is clear that particular vigilance is required for at least the first 3 months after Covid-19,a said co-author Ajay Shah from the varsity.