Diabetic ketoacidosis in patients with SARS-CoV-2: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Diabetology and Metabolic Syndrome


Background: One possible reason for increased mortality due to SARS-CoV-2 in patients with diabetes is from the complication of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Objectives: To re-evaluate the association of SARS-CoV-2 and development of DKA and analyse the demographic and biochemical parameters and the clinical outcomes in COVID-19 patients with DKA. Design: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement was followed. Methods: Electronic databases (Proquest, Medline, Embase, Pubmed, CINAHL, Wiley online library, Scopus and Nature) were searched from 1 December 2019 to 30 June 2021 in the English language using the following keywords alone or in combination: COVID-19 OR SARS-CoV-2 AND diabetic ketoacidosis OR DKA OR ketosis OR ketonemia OR hyperglycaemic emergency OR hyperglycaemic crisis. We included studies in adults and children of all ages in all healthcare settings. Binary logistic regression model was used to explore the effect of various demographic and biochemical parameters variables on patient’s final treatment outcome (survival or death). Results: Of the 484 papers that were identified, 68 articles were included in the systematic review and meta-analysis (54 case report, 10 case series, and 4 cohort studies). Studies involving 639 DKA patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 [46 (7.2%) were children and 334 (52.3%) were adults] were analyzed. The median or mean patient age ranged from < 1 years to 66 years across studies. Most of the patients (n = 309, 48.3%) had pre-existing type 2 diabetes mellitus. The majority of the patients were male (n = 373, 58.4%) and belonged to Hispanic (n = 156, 24.4%) and black (n = 98, 15.3%) ethnicity. The median random blood glucose level, HbA1c, pH, bicarbonate, and anion gap in all included patients at presentation were 507 mg/dl [IQR 399–638 mg/dl], 11.4% [IQR 9.9–13.5%], 7.16 [IQR 7.00–7.22], 10 mmol/l [IQR 6.9–13 mmol/l], and 24.5 mEq/l [18–29.2 mEq/l]; respectively. Mortality rate was [63/243, 25.9%], with a majority of death in patients of Hispanic ethnicity (n = 17, 27%; p = 0.001). The odd ratios of death were significantly high in patients with pre-existing diabetes mellitus type 2 [OR 5.24, 95% CI 2.07–15.19; p = 0.001], old age (≥ 60 years) [OR 3.29, 95% CI 1.38–7.91; p = 0.007], and male gender [OR 2.61, 95% CI 1.37–5.17; p = 0.004] compared to those who survived. Conclusion: DKA is not uncommon in SARS-CoV-2 patients with diabetes mellitus and results in a mortality rate of 25.9%. Mortality key determinants in DKA patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection are individuals with pre-existing diabetes mellitus type 2, older age [≥ 60 years old], male gender, BMI ≥ 30, blood glucose level > 1000 mg/dl, and anion gap ≥ 30 mEq/l.

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