3 Pre-Existing Conditions That Make It Harder To Fight COVID-19

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: June 29, 2020

Living with a long-term health condition can impact your life in many ways and put you at greater risk for severe COVID-19 illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 73% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had a pre-existing condition. The CDC also estimates 60% of adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease that can weaken the immune system, making it less effective in fighting the virus. But which underlying conditions put patients at a higher risk? We’ve gathered what you need to know about which conditions may make it more difficult to fight COVID-19.
  1. High Blood Pressure
    Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is very prevalent in the United States, affecting about 45% of Americans. COVID-19 patients with high blood pressure have twice the risk of death and are more likely to need a ventilator to help them breathe. In Italy, one of the countries hit early by the virus, 74.7% of those who died had high blood pressure. As the virus continues to spread across the globe, researchers are trying to discover why so many COVID-19 patients have hypertension. One theory is the organ damage caused by hypertension may put patients at a disadvantage in their fight against the virus. High blood pressure can damage many vital organs, including the heart, blood vessels, lungs, brain, and kidneys. Not only does hypertension damage the organs, but a COVID-19 infection can also impact many of the same organs.
  2. Diabetes
    Patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes face worse outcomes if they do become Covid positive. Diabetes is typically associated with high blood sugar, which can interfere with blood’s ability to fight infection and may result in a suppressed immune system. A recent study found that both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 death. One in 10 COVID-19 patients with diabetes die within a week, and one in five needed a ventilator to breathe, according to a study published in Diabetologia, the Journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
  3. Chronic Kidney Disease
    Patients who receive dialysis treatment for kidney disease may be at higher risk for severe illness, as they have weakened immune systems, and many have coexisting conditions such as diabetes.

While practicing good hygiene like hand washing, wearing a mask, and social distancing are important for everyone, those with pre-existing conditions should be more cautious, as COVID-19 could affect them more severely. It is important to continue treatments and medications and consult their prescriber if COVID-19 symptoms are detected.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.