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Living with Chronic Conditions Increases Risk of COVID-19

Those suffering from chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, lung disease and heart disease may be at a higher risk of contracting a severe illness from COVID-19, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Based on data from about 7,000 cases, the study found that 78% of COVID-19 patients in the United States who required admission into an intensive care unit had at least one underlying condition, as did 94% of hospitalized patients who died from COVID-19. Diabetes (32%) was the most prevalent, followed by heart disease (29%). Chronic lung disease, which includes COPD, asthma and emphysema, was found in 21%.

“These preliminary findings suggest that in the United States persons with underlying health conditions or other recognized risk factors for severe outcomes from respiratory infections appear to be at a higher risk for severe disease from COVID-19 than are persons without these conditions,” wrote the CDC researchers. “Community mitigation strategies, which aim to slow the spread of COVID-19, are important to protect all persons from COVID-19, especially persons with underlying health conditions.”

The study also showed that while COVID-19 poses a great risk to the country’s elderly population, people of all ages are susceptible to infection – 23% of the COVID-19 cases were found in children and teenagers age 19 or younger. Only a small number from this group – 48 – were admitted to a hospital, however, and just eight were admitted to an ICU, the report found.

The researchers acknowledged the results of the study were preliminary, noting that “the analysis was limited by missing data related to the health department reporting burden associated with rapidly rising case counts and delays in completion of information requiring medical chart review. These findings might change as additional data become available.”

For more information, read the full study or article.