Diabetes – a killer in the shadow of a coronavirus pandemic

An inconspicuous and slightly underestimated disease, however, every twelfth Czech suffers from. It is the fourth most common cause of death in our country, with the number of deaths from diabetes worldwide rising by 70 percent since 2000. In addition, it is one of the comorbidities that can cause serious complications of COVID-19. Nevertheless, awareness of the dangers of diabetes and the prevention of this disease is at a very low level. Scientists from the International Clinical Research Center of St. Anne’s University Hospital Brno (FNUSA-ICRC).

Diabetes mellitus, is a disease in which the body is unable to produce enough insulin. Most of the food we consume is broken down in the body into simple sugar – glucose. The human body uses glucose as a source of energy. Glucose is transported in the body by the blood, and in order for cells to use glucose from the blood, they need insulin. Without this hormone, therefore, cells cannot obtain energy from food. People with diabetes cannot use their blood glucose, which leads to an increase in blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and other serious consequences, such as visual impairment, kidney disease or damage to the nerves, circulatory system and others. There are two main types of diabetes, with approximately 95% of patients suffering from type 2 diabetes.

One of the main obstacles to halting the rise in diabetes is the fact that patients are often diagnosed at later stages of the disease. There are a number of risk factors that can contribute to the development of the disease and which can be prevented by proper prevention. The highest degree of risk means the so-called prediabetes, which is a slight increase in glucose values above normal. Patients with this diagnosis have a consistently high risk (up to 70%) of developing type 2 diabetes, which can occur at any time. And it is the period of prediabetes that is the ideal time for an effective campaign to prevent and inform the population about the dangers they may face.

However, this is hampered by the absence of this information among the general population. “For example, there is no diabetes prevention program in Brno yet and it is difficult to set one if 8 out of 10 people ignore the risk associated with prediabetes,” said Juan Pablo Gonzalez Rivas MD, head of the Kardiovize research team. At the same time, it is a fact that patients with type 2 diabetes who have been able to reduce their weight radically may experience long-term remission of diabetes. “If the patient meets the criteria, this reduction can be achieved by surgery, if not, then by an intensive lifestyle change program,” said Dr. Gonzalez Rivas.

When evaluating more than 2,000 inhabitants of Brno and the surrounding area aged 25-64, researchers from Kardiovize found that 64.7% of them have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the following years. They are currently working so intensively on a preventive strategy that would target this high-risk group. It will be a combination of important changes that will lead to an improvement in lifestyle. First, the individual’s current condition, such as physical activity, medical history, or eating habits, is evaluated, and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is determined based on this information. This will be followed by a consultation with a doctor, nutritional counselor and coach in order to draw up an individual plan. Its goal will be to motivate the patient to lose weight and related improvements in glucose, lipids and blood pressure – in short, to improve his health and quality of life.

“We plan to conduct a pilot study in July, we want to have the final version of the prevention program for volunteers, which we will monitor for six months,” added Dr. Gonzalez Rivas. “It is really a challenge for us, and if it succeeds on a local scale, we would like to expand this program for the entire Czech population. We want to help as many people as possible. ”