A French study has found that at least one in 10 COVID-19 patients who have diabetes died within a week of hospitalization. The study also found that one in five required a ventilator to breathe.

Experts believe that diabetes is one of the underlying medical conditions that could increase the risk of developing more severe symptoms of coronavirus, and this study confirms that.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Diabetologia, looked at more than 1,300 COVID-19 patients in France from March 10 to 31. Of all patients, 3 percent had type 1 diabetes, 89 percent had type 2 diabetes, while the remaining had other forms of the condition.

The study researchers found that 29 percent of the patients were on a ventilator or were dead with seven days of hospitalization. They said 1 in 5 patients were on a ventilator to breathe, and 1 in 10 had died, while 18 percent were discharged from the hospital.

It was also found that COVID-19 patients with diabetic complications were more likely to die within a week, while those who were 75 and above were 14 times more likely to die. Furthermore, diabetics with sleep apnea, dyspnea, and obesity were three times more likely to die within seven days.

No independent relationship was found between severe cases of COVID-19 and age, sex, long-term glucose control, chronic complications, hypertension, or unusual medications. However, being overweight or obese, measured by body mass index (BMI), was an important factor.

The authors wrote, “Only BMI turned out to be independently associated with the primary outcome.”

“It is well known that people with diabetes have increased infection risk, especially for influenza and pneumonia,” the researchers wrote.

“Moreover, diabetes was previously reported as a major risk factor for mortality in people infected with the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza and, more recently, with the Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS),” they added.

“Epidemiological studies have quickly and consistently pointed out diabetes as one of the major comorbidities associated with COVID-19 and affecting its severity.”

The investigators found that patients who used oral medications or insulin to manage their blood sugar levels did not have a greater risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19. They said diabetic patients should continue taking their treatments. The study findings suggest that doctors should pay special attention to the elderly with long-standing diabetes and advanced complications who are at greater risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19.