Metformin Use Reduces Risk of Death in Diabetic COVID-19 Patients

A study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has revealed that the use of diabetes drug metformin before the diagnosis of COVID-19 was associated with a threefold decrease in mortality in COVID-19 patients with type 2 diabetes. The beneficial effect of metformin remained even after correcting for sex, age, race, hypertension, kidney disorder, heart failure and obesity. The study involved 604 patients testing positive for COVID-19. Overall mortality for COVID-19-positive patients was 11 percent.

The study found that 93 percent of deaths occurred in subjects over the age of 50, and being male or having high blood pressure was associated with a significantly elevated risk of death. Diabetes was associated with a dramatic increase in mortality, with an odds ratio of 3.62. Overall, 67 percent of deaths in the study occurred in subjects with diabetes. Researchers found that prior insulin use did not affect the mortality risk.

However, prior metformin use significantly reduced the odds of dying, and the 11 per cent mortality for metformin users was not only comparable to that of the general COVID-19-positive population, but it was also dramatically lower than the 23 percent mortality for diabetes patients not on metformin. Interestingly, even after controlling for covariates, death was significantly less likely with an odds ratio of 0.33 for Type 2 diabetes subjects taking metformin, compared with those who did not take metformin.

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