Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an ongoing global pandemic. Everyone is at risk of getting COVID-19 if exposed to the virus. Some people are more likely than others to become severely ill. They may require hospitalisation, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they may even die.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, based on what we know at this time, people with Chronic diseases are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 1. Such diseases include hypertension or high blood pressure, type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus, heart diseases (like coronary artery disease, heart failure), cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain), obesity, and smoking habit.
Hypertension is a common comorbidity in COVID-19 patients and a study showed that hypertensive patients carried a nearly 3.48-fold higher risk of dying from COVID-19 2.
Another study showed that people with diabetes mellitus are at increased risk of disease progression and developing COVID-19 complications, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome, intensive care unit admission, mechanical ventilation and death. Optimal glycemic control is crucial in the COVID-19 era and improves prognosis 3.
This type of patients with COVID‐19 may be at higher risk of cardiac complications, particularly if the underlying genetic disease has remained undetected 4.
Under the current pandemic, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. We must stay highly vigilant and maintain hand hygiene, mask-wearing and social distancing. Apart from protecting yourself from the virus, we should keep track of our underlying medical conditions. By understanding the factors that put you at an increased risk, you can make decisions about what kind of precautions to take in your daily life.
If you have an underlying medical condition, you should continue to follow your treatment plan:
- Take your medicines exactly as prescribed and follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for diet and exercise while maintaining social distancing precautions.
- If you currently smoke, quit. If you used to smoke, don’t start again. If you’ve never smoked, don’t start.
- Make sure that you have at least a 30-day supply of your chronic medicines, including diabetes mellites, high cholesterol and high blood pressure medicines.
- Members of the public are advised to seek medical advice promptly when feeling unwell.
- If you don’t have a regular healthcare provider, contact your nearest family doctor.
- Do not delay life-saving treatment or emergency care.
Staying healthy during the pandemic is important. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether your vaccinations and other preventive services are up to date to help prevent you from becoming ill with other diseases.
- It is particularly important for those at increased risk of severe illness, including older adults, to receive recommended vaccinations against influenza and pneumococcal disease.
- Talk with your healthcare provider about maintaining preventive services like cancer screenings during the pandemic.
- Remember the importance of staying physically active and practicing healthy habits to cope with stress.
- Zhang J, Wu J, Sun X, et al. Association of hypertension with the severity and fatality of SARS-CoV-2 infection: A meta-analysis. Epidemiol Infect. 2020;148:e106. Published 2020 May 28. doi:10.1017/S095026882000117X
- Papadokostaki E, Tentolouris N, Liberopoulos E. COVID-19 and diabetes: What does the clinician need to know? [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jul 3]. Prim Care Diabetes. 2020;S1751-9918(20)30222-9. doi:10.1016/j.pcd.2020.06.010
- Vuorio, A., Watts, G.F. and Kovanen, P.T. (2020), Familial hypercholesterolaemia and COVID‐19: triggering of increased sustained cardiovascular risk. J Intern Med, 287: 746-747. doi:10.1111/joim.13070