As per a report published by the CDC in April 2020, the majority of people having COVID-19 who need hospitalization have some pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, chronic lung disease, and heart disease. Several epidemiological studies show different rates of chronic diseases among patients affected by COVID-19 across other countries which stresses its impact on COVID-19 infection. However, based on what we know about COVID-19 so far, risk of getting infection may not be high but the illness is often more severe in people over 60 years of age and people of all ages with underlying health problems.
Why do chronic conditions warrant extra attention?
Chronic conditions not only impact COVID-19 severity but also affect duration of illness, treatment types, and chances of recovery.
The sugar link of COVID-19: High blood sugars can interfere with the ability of white blood cells to fight infection. So, people with high blood sugars may have a suppressed immune system, leaving them more susceptible to lung infections and future complications.
Chronic lung diseases and COVID-19: Novel coronavirus is primarily a respiratory virus and much of the injury occurs is in the lungs. Any time a virus invades our lungs, it activates our immune system. But it also causes inflammation. This can help keep the infection at bay, but can also damage some of the normal cells in our lungs and airways.
An already inflamed or damaged lung can be vulnerable to further complications with a COVID-19 infection. The warning signs of COVID-19 can even be confused with the aggravation of symptoms due to existing lung conditions.
Relation with heart conditions: Your heart and lungs work together to make sure the body gets the oxygen-rich blood it needs to function optimally. If the heart is ill or damaged, it cannot pump out enough of the blood it gets from the lungs. This leads to a pressure built up in the heart which pushes fluid back into the lungs. This excess pressure can cause damage to lungs and make you prone to complications with further lung damage.
Kidney disease and COVID-19: People on dialysis can have weaker immunity, making it difficult to fight infections. Also, people with a kidney transplant need to take certain medicines that keep the immune system less active to help the body accept the transplanted organ. But this in turn makes the body vulnerable to infections.
It is important for kidney patients to continue with their scheduled dialysis treatments while taking necessary safety precautions. Know someone with kidney disease and think they might need some expert advice? Book A Doctor’s Appointment NOW!
Dos And Don’ts For People With Chronic Conditions
-Never miss a dose of any of your medicines and ensure sufficient stock of the medicines.
-Limit your outdoor visits as far as possible.
-Monitor your health regularly at home with health devices such as glucometers, BP monitors, and pulse oximeters.
-List down the emergency contact numbers of your family, and friends and a doctor whom you (and your caregiver) can contact in need.
-Make a list of the helpline numbers that can be used in case of any emergency.
-Do not stop taking any prescription medicines without speaking to your doctor
-Do not have visitors inside your home, including friends and family, unless they’re providing essential care
-Do not rush to hospital in case of mild problems. Consult your doctor first over call or video.
-Never visit outdoors or any sick person without wearing a mask.
-Don’t panic if you get sick. Keep a supply of fever-reducing medicines and other first aid items in your home.
1mg’s Special Request
Keep in virtual touch with your family, friends, and neighbors who have underlying health conditions. Help them to get essentials and right information in such times of crisis.
Remember: Different chronic diseases have different self-care needs. While you keep taking precautions for yourself and your loved ones, we plan to keep sharing special tips for people with special needs in these tough times of COVID-19. Stay tuned and keep sharing with those you think will benefit from such information.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)
1. Hospitalization Rates and Characteristics of Patients Hospitalized with Laboratory-Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 — COVID-NET, 14 States, March 1–30, 2020. Morbidity and mortality weekly report (MMWR). CDC.
2. Nello Martini, Carlo Piccinni, Antonella Pedrini, Aldo Maggioni. CoViD-19 and Chronic Diseases: Current Knowledge, Future Steps and the MaCroScopio Project. Recenti Prog Med. 2020 Apr;111(4):198-201.
3. International Diabetes Federation. COVID-19 and Diabetes.
4. The Lung Association. Coronavirus FAQs.
5. ACC. Clinical Bulletin. Coronavirus.
6. National Kidney Foundation. Kidney Disease and COVID-19.