DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Millions of diabetics across the country are at a high risk for severe complications from COVID-19.

“They are more likely to hospitalized and more likely to die from COVID,” Dr. Robert Gabbay, chief science and medical officer at the American Diabetes Association told CBS 11 News. He said complications from the virus can be managed if people maintain their blood- sugar levels properly. He is particularly concerned about COVID-19 deaths among diabetics. “If you look at all the people who have died from COVID, 40% have diabetes,” he said.

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There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is where the body is unable to produce insulin. That’s the hormone that regulates the blood sugar levels. And Type-2 is where the cells resists the use of insulin. Type 2 can be caused by environmental factors such as lifestyle and diet. “People with diabetes are overweight and obese and we know that being overweight and obesity also increases the risk of more serious complication from COVID,” Dr. Gabbay said.

There are more than 34 million diabetics in the United States and additional 88 million who are pre-diabetic. Having a high blood sugar prevents the immune system to fight infection effectively. “Heart disease is also a risk factor for worse outcomes with COVID and people with diabetes all have these things,” he said.

He said the pandemic has also contributed to the increase in the diabetic population. Change in routines have lead to obesity and unhealthy eating habits.

“In many ways we have dual pandemic going on — not only COVID — but diabetes is increasing and been increasing around the world so all of those people with pre-diabetes are at risk,” he said.

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Gabbay said people with family history of diabetes should get routine blood work done. Eating healthy and exercise can help with prevention.

Click here for The American Diabetes Association a test to check if you are at risk for pre-diabetes.

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