Diabetes a giant consider COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations

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McALLEN, Texas – Fifty-five-year-old McAllen resident Gustavo Ortiz developed symptoms of COVID-19 in August 2020. At first he thought it was just the flu, but within a few days he was not breathing well.

He almost lost his fight against the coronavirus. Now he says he has been blessed to do things as common as going to work.

Ortiz says he was in intensive care for three days. “When I was hospitalized, I was almost on my last breath,” he said. “I think if I hadn’t arrived on August 25th, if I’d been three more days late, I wouldn’t have made it.” it. [I was] A fine line between dying at any moment or surviving. “He not only fought the coronavirus, but also the disease that doctors call a silent enemy.

“I have had diabetes for many years. That complicated the situation, ”he said.

Ortiz was treated by Hidalgo County Health Authority Doctor Ivan Melendez, who said diabetes was a huge risk factor for COVID-19 patients.

“Because COVID-19 is an inflammatory disease. We know that people die from clothing and inflammation, and people whose diabetes is not well controlled already have an inflammatory process, “he said.

Diabetes is a serious problem for the Rio Grande Valley. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Hidalgo County has the highest percentage of diabetes patients in the country.

“We know that in Hidalgo County, 30 to 33 percent of all people, all adults, have diabetes. In the country it is 8%. “Said Melendez.

Melendez said this had brought hospital stays and death rates in the Rio Grande Valley to a point where hospital beds were no longer available between June and August 2020 when Ortiz was being admitted at the same time. One person had to die before Ortiz could be placed in a normal hospital bed.

Today Dr. Melendez 100 COVID patients at the Edinburgh Regional Medical Center, but in July he stated that there were an average of 1,200 patients on any given day.

Melendez said the problem isn’t unique to the Rio Grande Valley, where around 90% of the population is Hispanic. He said it was a problem for the entire Hispanic community across the country.

“It also runs in families. We are predisposed to diabetes. And when you look at our typical diet, which is extremely high in carbohydrates, tortillas, rice, beans, bread and pan dulce (sweetened pastries), you call it natural, ”he said.

Ortiz, who spent a month in the hospital, says he’s now eating healthier and keeping his diabetes under control. He says he wants his suffering to be meaningful and to help others. That’s why he always advises people to take diabetes and COVID-19 seriously

“COVID is something to be very concerned about. I also used to think when the pandemic started that it was all over the top, but now I can honestly tell you that it is something very serious, ”he said.

Dr. Melendez says change is difficult for many people and since diabetes has no apparent symptoms at first, he does not alert anyone.

“Most people diagnosed with diabetes don’t even understand what it really means and how serious the problem really is,” he said.

But changes can be made any day and it makes a huge difference, Melendez said. He added that the chances of survival against COVID-19 for people with controlled diabetes are the same as for someone who has never had the disease.