Diabetic ketoacidosis precipitated by COVID-19: A report of two cases and review of literature

Diabetes Metab Syndr. Sep-Oct 2020;14(5):1459-1462. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2020.07.050. Epub 2020 Aug 1.


Background and aims: The relationship between severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) disease (COVID-19) and diabetes mellitus is bidirectional. On one hand, diabetes mellitus is associated with an increased risk of severe COVID-19. On the other hand, new onset diabetes and severe metabolic complications of pre-existing diabetes, including diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) have been observed in patients with COVID-19. In this report, we describe two patient with diabetes mellitus who presented to our hospital with DKA. We also reviewed almost all published cases of DKA that had been precipitated by COVID-19.

Methods: Two patients were admitted with DKA, who were diagnosed to have COVID-19 on the basis of real time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay. Detailed history, anthropometry, laboratory investigations, imaging studies, clinical course and management outcomes were documented.

Results: First patient (30-year-male) had undiagnosed diabetes and no other comorbidities, and COVID-19 precipitated DKA. He also had COVID-19-associated pneumonia. Second patient (60-year-male) had long duration hypertension with no prior history of diabetes and developed cerebrovascular accident (CVA). He was also diagnosed with COVID-19 (RT-PCR assay) and DKA in the hospital. CVA and COVID-19 could have precipitated DKA. Both patients responded well to treatment and were discharged in a stable condition.

Conclusions: These cases show that COVID-19 can precipitate DKA in a significant number of patients. DKA can occur in patients with pre-existing diabetes or newly diagnosed diabetes. As COVID-19 and diabetes are prevalent conditions, high degree of suspicion is required to diagnose DKA timely in order to improve the prognosis of COVID-19-related diabetic ketoacidosis.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; Diabetic ketoacidosis; Metabolic complications.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnostic imaging
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis / virology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnostic imaging
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed