Are you more likely to get Covid-19? Diabetes, blood pressure are other conditions to be wary of
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across India, the Centre on Monday shared a list of "risk factors" likely to increase Covid-19 vulnerability in an individual. The list was shared on the government's #IndiaFightsCorona Twitter account, aimed at keeping people well-informed about the crisis at hand. The Covid-19 risk factors, which include diabetes, old age, smoking, and certain cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, are likely to make an individual more likely to contract the coronavirus disease.
Here's the list of risk factors that could increase Covid-19 vulnerability:
1. Those with the age of 60 years and above: The Union ministry of health and family welfare, in its official guidelines on Covid-19, says that older people, specifically those above the age of 60 years, are more likely to contract the coronavirus disease and develop a serious illness. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, the risk for severe illness with Covid-19 increases with age, with older adults more likely to require hospitalisation if they get Covid-19, compared to younger adults. More than 80% of Covid-19 deaths occur in people over the age of 65, the CDC has warned. It's recommended that the health conditions of senior citizens are constantly monitored and urgent help is sought as soon as the need arises.
2. Those who smoke: According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), smoking tobacco increases the risk factors associated with Covid-19. Although there is currently a dearth of enough well-designed peer-reviewed population-based studies to properly define the link between SARS-CoV-2 infection and smoking, a study by researchers from King’s College London in January showed that smokers are more likely to be hospitalised from Covid-19 and were more likely to have a higher symptom burden than non-smokers.
3. Those with non-communicable diseases (NCDs): Certain NCDs in individuals increase Covid-19 vulnerability and make them more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus disease. These include:
i) Cardiovascular disease - These include heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies or hypertension. According to WHO, the aforementioned factors have been found to increase the odds for severe Covid-19 by 2.3, 2.9, and 3.9 times, respectively, in a meta-analysis. In another study, it was found that hypertension increased the risk of mortality from Covid-19 by 3.5 times, WHO said in its guidelines on Covid-19 and NCDs.
ii) Chronic Respiratory Disease - These include chronic lung diseases, such as moderate to severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis, scarred lung tissue or interstitial lung disease (including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis), cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs). A study in the United Kingdom suggested that the presence of the aforementioned conditions increases patients' risk of severe complications or death from Covid-19, as per a WHO report.
iii) Diabetes - The United Nations interagency task force on NCDs reported in a systematic review that people with diabetes were up to three times more likely to have severe symptoms or die of Covid-19, and the situation is worse for people with uncontrolled diabetes. The American Diabetes Association says that while there are not enough studies to show whether people with either type-1 or type-2 diabetes are more likely to get Covid-19 than the general population, it is evident that diabetic people are more likely to have worse complications once they get it and may have a higher chance of developing severe symptoms and complications.
iv) Cancer - Cancer patients are more likely to experience severe Covid-19. A multicentre study conducted in China's Wuhan, and published in The Lancet medical journal, last year showed that the mortality rate from Covid-19 was significantly increased in patients with cancer and was particularly high among those with blood cancers. A new study in January earlier this year also found that patients with inactive cancer and not currently undergoing treatments for the deadly disease also face a significantly higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19.