High prevalence of diabetes is main cause of COVID-19 deaths in Puducherry, health official says

Data released by the Health Department on novel coronavirus cases in the Union Territory on September 10 revealed that all six patients who succumbed to the virus, were diabetic

Published - September 10, 2020 03:04 pm IST - PUDUCHERRY

Photograph used for representational purposes only

Photograph used for representational purposes only

COVID-19-related deaths in the Union Territory has brought to focus the high prevalence of diabetes in a large section of the population in the region.

Among the co-morbidity factors behind COVID- 19 deaths reported in the UT, diabetes is the main cause, and in a few cases, diabetes combined with hypertension is the cause.

Data released by the Health Department on novel coronavirus cases in the UT on September 10 reveal that all six patients who succumbed to the virus were diabetic. Of the six deceased, four patients were also undergoing treatment for hypertension. Out of 10 deaths reported on September 9, five of the patients were diabetic. Data for September 6 revealed that of the 16 deaths reported, 11 people were diabetic. The statistics released earlier for COVID-19 gives a nearly similar picture.

Director of Health and Family Welfare Services, S. Mohan Kumar, told The Hindu that diabetes remained the main cause of COVID-19 deaths in the UT. “If you take a singular factor for mortality, diabetes remains the top among co-morbidity conditions. In certain cases, diabetes along with hypertension led to a large number of deaths. It is a fact that we have a large number of diabetes and hypertension cases. Hereditary factor combined with lifestyle is the main cause of high prevalence rate,” Mr. Kumar said.

According to former Director of Health and Family Welfare Services Dilip Kumar Baliga, people of the UT, especially Puducherry, are more prone to diabetes and hypertension.

Two decades ago a survey was conducted by doctors from France along with the Health Department in Puducherry. The survey found prevalence of hypertension very high among the residents. “We joined the French team as they informed us about the high incidence of hypertension among Puducherrians settled in France. So, they wanted to know if it was because of migration or because of the high prevalence rate here. The team’s study found a high percentage of diabetes cases here,” Mr. Baliga said.

Subsequently, a survey conducted by the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Science and Research showed 30 per cent of government servants in Puducherry were diabetic, he said. “Hereditary, undisciplined dietary habits and a very sedentary lifestyle are the causes of such a high incidence,” Mr Baliga said.

Emergency physician at New Medical Centre, T. Arjun Sundaram said people with co-morbidities are at a higher risk of getting infected with the virus. So it is very important that people present themselves before a doctor, he said, stressing the need for more awareness among people on early symptoms. “It is an obedient virus if treated early for even people with co-morbidities. But people with co-morbidities try to ignore early symptoms as part of their existing medical conditions or just as flu-like symptoms. Once ignored, the oxygen saturation plunges and recovery chances become difficult,” Dr. Arjun said.

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