December 6, 2021

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Buckeye Health Plan warns Ohioans with diabetes may be at increased risk during pandemic

Diabetes was noted as an underlying condition in approximately 40% of COVID-19 patient deaths

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(WKBN) – The COVID-19 virus can cause serious concerns for Ohioans with chronic conditions.

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control shows more than 75% of people who died from COVID-19 had at least one pre-existing condition.

Diabetes was noted as an underlying condition in approximately 40% of COVID-19 patient deaths.

Among people younger than 65 who died from the infection, about half had diabetes, according to the CDC.

In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month in November, Buckeye Health Plan encourages Ohioans with diabetes or diabetes risk factors to take steps to protect themselves from COVID-19.

“Now, more than ever, it is important for Ohioans with diabetes to manage their condition,” said Dr. Brad Lucas, Buckeye Chief Medical Officer. “Regulating your blood sugar levels and making healthy lifestyle choices can help your immune system fight COVID-19.”

Health experts encourage those with diabetes to:

  • Continue taking diabetes pills and insulin
  • Test blood sugar and keep track of the results
  • Have at least a 30-day supply of medicines, including insulin
  • Stay up to date on your annual well visit
  • Call your doctor if you have concerns about your condition or feel sick

Diabetes affects more than 1 in 10 Ohioans, and as many as one in four people may have the disease and not know it, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Symptoms can be so subtle that they often go unnoticed, leading to serious COVID-19 complications, heart disease and vision challenges.

The most common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands/feet

Creating healthy lifestyle habits can also reduce the risk of serious health complications associated with diabetes. Ohioans should:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Limit processed foods, saturated and trans fat and eat more fruit, vegetables and high-fiber foods
  • Exercise regularly. Stay active most days of the week to help manage weight, reduce blood glucose levels and help improve blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight. Body fat, especially stored around the stomach area, can increase the body’s resistance to insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Losing five-to-10 percent of body weight can significantly reduce the risk of diabetes, according to John Hopkins Medicine
  • Stop smoking. Smokers are 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers, and the more cigarettes you smoke, the higher your risk, according to the CDC
  • Get support. Programs like Buckeye’s Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP) program and care management help members living with diabetes understand and manage their condition and overall health

Those with diabetes should take additional precautions to avoid contracting the COVID-19 virus:

  • Regularly wash your hands throughout the day for at least 20 seconds, using soap and warm running water
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces often
  • Stay at least six feet from other people
  • Wear a mask in public places
  • And, stay home when sick

For more information on the importance of diabetes management and COVID-19 visit or call 1-866-246-4358.

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