Individuals Taking Class of Steroid Medications at High Risk for COVID-19

Research from Wuhan, China, found that those with diabetes and high blood pressure were overrepresented among severely ill patients and those who have passed away from COVID-19.

People who take a class of steroid hormones called glucocorticoids for conditions such as asthma, allergies, and arthritis on a routine basis may be at a higher risk of mounting a normal stress response if they are infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to a new editorial published with the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Patients who take glucocorticoids may be more susceptible to COVID-19 as a result of the medication suppressing the immune system. In addition, the researchers noted that patients may experience more severe disease once infected because these medications suppress their own steroid response to infection. In this setting, injectable supplemental glucocorticoid therapy can reverse the risk of potentially fatal adrenal failure and should be considered in this situation, according to the study authors.

Those with known primary adrenal insufficiency, or Addison disease, and secondary adrenal insufficiency occurring in hypopituitarism should also take extra precautions. If patients develop symptoms such as dry continuous cough and fever, they should double their oral glucocorticoid dose immediately and continue with this regimen until the fever has subsided, according to the study.

The severity of COVID-19 appears to be worse in individuals who do not have diabetes versus those who have the condition, according to the authors. Research from Wuhan, China, found that those with diabetes and high blood pressure were overrepresented among severely ill patients and those who have passed away.

According to the authors, scientists have already helped to uncover how the virus responsible for COVID-19 enters cells and spreads from 1 individual to the other. For some, preliminary observations regarding the virus’ interactions with the endocrine system have already happened.

REFERENCE

Individuals taking class of steroid medications at high risk for COVID-19. Endocrine Society. https://www.endocrine.org/news-and-advocacy/news-room/2020/individuals-taking-class-of-steroid-medications-at-high-risk-for-covid. Published March 31, 2020. Accessed April 8, 2020.