Dr Sushil Kotru
The end of 2019 brought about a disruption
all around the world when a novel coronavirus
(SARS-CoV-2) was identified. This coronavirus
causes the disease COVID-19 that affects the
respiratory system causing symptoms such
as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases,
difficulty in breathing. COVID-19 is pandemic
that has affected the entire world, including
many positive cases found in India.
In addition, India is also in the midst of a rapid epidemiological transition of non communicable diseases (NCDs). Due to rapid urbanization and aging population of India, there is an increase in obesity and its associated cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, including diabetes and hypertension. Thus, India remains a large pool of people with diabetes and CVDs who are at high risk of infections.
“Understand your Risks”
The COVID-19 pandemic can affect any individual, however, studies say those with a history of chronic illnesses or medical complications (like diabetes, high blood pressure) are at higher risks for developing this infection. COVID-19 leads to viral pneumonia following which the chances of secondary bacterial infections is much higher in patients with Diabetes.
In a diabetic person, along with the body’s blood glucose levels, its insulin production is also compromised. That causes lasting complications, especially on the immunity. People with high or uncontrolled blood sugar levels have weaker natural defence mechanisms to protect the body against several infections and promote healing. Hence, it usually takes a little longer time than usual for the people with Diabetes to recover from such infections.
“Be Informed..Be Safe”
To find relief amidst these difficult times, authorities like World Health Organisation (WHO), American Diabetes Association (ADA) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have provided up-to-date information and guidance on infection control measures and identifying and caring for people with diabetes and hypertension.
Precautions for Patients with Diabetes, Hypertension and Heart Diseases in view of COVID-19 Pandemic
Take your medicines regularly: Follow your medicine schedule and test your sugar levels frequently so as to keep your diabetes under control and DO NOT STOP any existing medications.
Control risk factor levels:
Keep your BP and blood sugar levels under control
Do some form of regular exercise
Follow the diet and salt restriction as advised
If you are a non-vegetarian, you can continue to be so
Increase the fibre and protein content of the diet and include more vegetables and fruits in diet
Avoid smoking and alcohol
Plan ahead of time: It is always advisable for high risk patients to start planning what to do before they get ill.
Make sure there is an adequate stock of medications and supplies for monitoring blood glucose and blood pressure at home, so that they do not need to leave the house if they become ill.
They should contact their doctor for advice on how to monitor their blood glucose, get adequate refills for medications (especially insulin) and what adjustments they may need to do in their medication or diet.
Maintain hygiene of surroundings: Covid-19 spreads by coughs and sneezes, through what are called droplets (tiny amount saliva or other secretions expressed through cough/sneezing or even after a hearty laugh) and through touch.
Maintain basic hygiene by cleaning and wiping the rooms, tables and other surfaces with floor cleaners or even simple soap solution.
Sanitize your hands with hand sanitizers or by washing when you touch unknown or suspicious surfaces.
As we all know, there is currently no vaccine available to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. All the incredible and simple steps mentioned above should be taken as precautionary measures to contain the spread of these infections. The scientific community is working hard to build further knowledge to assist in the rapid response of COVID-19 and future emerging viruses. Meanwhile, Be Prepared, Be Smart and Be Safe.