There’s no other way to put it…
The pandemic has been a nightmare for diabetics. Having the blood sugar disorder puts you at far higher risk for severe COVID and death.
About 4 in 10 people who died of COVID-19 in the U.S. have had diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among people under 65 who died of COVID, half had diabetes.
In all, more than 185,000 American diabetics have lost their lives to coronavirus.
Now, finally, there may be good news for many diabetics.
A new study shows that the drug metformin cuts COVID deaths among diabetics threefold.
Metformin (Fortamet, Glucophage, Glumetza) is one of the oldest and most-used diabetes medications. It was discovered in 1922 and is the number one oral drug for diabetes.
Metformin is the fourth-most commonly prescribed medication in the U.S., with more than 78 million prescriptions filled annually.
Metformin Dramatically Reduces COVID Death Risk
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham looked at COVID-19 outcomes in 25,326 patients. As in other studies, they found that diabetics died at much higher rates than the general population.
But they discovered that those taking metformin had about the same chance of dying from COVID as nondiabetics.
Dr. Anath Shalev led the study. “While diabetes is an independent risk factor for COVID-19-related mortality, this risk is dramatically reduced in subjects taking metformin,” she said.
Researchers don’t know exactly how metformin protects against coronavirus death. Nor do they know why other diabetes drugs don’t offer the same protection.
But Dr. Shalev believes it may be due to the fact that in addition to reducing blood sugar, metformin reduces inflammation and prevents blood clots. Runaway inflammation and blood clots in the lungs are serious complications in COVID patients that often lead to death.
“The mechanisms may involve metformin’s previously described anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic effects,” she said.
The U.S. study confirms previous metformin research in China, Italy, and France. “Similar results have now been obtained in different populations around the world,” Dr. Shalev noted.
Metformin’s protective effect is so powerful that a recent paper in the journal The Lancet suggested that studies be launched to look at whether the drug should be in used in nondiabetics to treat COVID.
The bottom line?
If you have diabetes and are taking metformin, this is wonderful news. It shows that your COVID risk is far lower than previously believed.
If you are diabetic and using a different drug to control your blood sugar, show your doctor this article. Ask whether switching to metformin makes sense during the pandemic.
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