Telemedicine and urban diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic in Milano, Italy during lock-down: epidemiological and sociodemographic picture

Livio Luzi, Michele Carruba, Roberta Crialesi, Stefano Da Empoli, Regina Dagani, Elisabetta Lovati, Antonio Nicolucci, Cesare C. Berra, Elisa Cipponeri, Ketty Vaccaro, Andrea Lenzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Since 2010, more than half of World population lives in Urban Environments. Urban Diabetes has arisen as a novel nosological entity in Medicine. Urbanization leads to the accrual of a number of factors increasing the vulnerability to diabetes mellitus and related diseases. Herein we report clinical-epidemiological data of the Milano Metropolitan Area in the contest of the Cities Changing Diabetes Program. Since the epidemiological picture was taken in January 2020, on the edge of COVID-19 outbreak in the Milano Metropolitan Area, a perspective addressing potential interactions between diabetes and obesity prevalence and COVID-19 outbreak, morbidity and mortality will be presented. To counteract lock-down isolation and, in general, social distancing a pilot study was conducted to assess the feasibility and efficacy of tele-monitoring via Flash Glucose control in a cohort of diabetic patients in ASST North Milano. Methods: Data presented derive from 1. ISTAT (National Institute of Statistics of Italy), 2. Milano ATS web site (Health Agency of Metropolitan Milano Area), which entails five ASST (Health Agencies in the Territories). A pilot study was conducted in 65 screened diabetic patients (only 40 were enrolled in the study of those 36 were affected by type 2 diabetes and 4 were affected by type 1 diabetes) of ASST North Milano utilizing Flash Glucose Monitoring for 3 months (mean age 65 years, HbA1c 7,9%. Patients were subdivided in 3 groups using glycemic Variability Coefficient (VC): a. High risk, VC > 36, n. 8 patients; Intermediate risk 20 < VC < 36, n. 26 patients; Low risk VC < 20, n. 4 patients. The control group was constituted by 26 diabetic patients non utilizing Flash Glucose monitoring. Results: In a total population of 3.227.264 (23% is over 65 y) there is an overall prevalence of 5.65% with a significant difference between Downtown ASST (5.31%) and peripheral ASST (ASST North Milano, 6.8%). Obesity and overweight account for a prevalence of 7.8% and 27.7%, respectively, in Milano Metropolitan Area. We found a linear relationship (R = 0.36) between prevalence of diabetes and aging index. Similarly, correlations between diabetes prevalence and both older people depending index and structural dependence index (R = 0.75 and R = 0.93, respectively), were found. A positive correlation (R = 0.46) with percent of unoccupied people and diabetes prevalence was also found. A reverse relationship between diabetes prevalence and University level instruction rate was finally identified (R = − 0.82). Our preliminary study demonstrated a reduction of Glycated Hemoglobin (p = 0.047) at 3 months follow-up during the lock-down period, indicating Flash Glucose Monitoring and remote control as a potential methodology for diabetes management during COVID-19 lock-down. Hypothesis and discussion: The increase in diabetes and obesity prevalence in Milano Metropolitan Area, which took place over 30 years, is related to several environmental factors. We hypothesize that some of those factors may have also determined the high incidence and virulence of COVID-19 in the Milano area. Health Agencies of Milano Metropolitan Area are presently taking care of diabetic patients facing the new challenge of maintaining sustainable diabetes care costs in light of an increase in urban population and of the new life-style. The COVID-19 pandemic will modify the management of diabetic and obese patients permanently, via the implementation of approaches that entail telemedicine technology. The pilot study conducted during the lock-down period indicates an improvement of glucose control utilizing a remote glucose control system in the Milano Metropolitan Area, suggesting a wider utilization of similar methodologies during the present “second wave” lock-down.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Diabetologica
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Diabetes and obesity prevalence
  • Telemonitoring of blood glucose
  • Urban diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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