New Data Shows that Heart Disease, Diabetes and Hypertension Dramatically Increase Risk of Dying from COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Related topics: COVID-19 Resources
March 10, 2020

New Data Shows that Heart Disease, Diabetes and Hypertension Dramatically Increase Risk of Dying from COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

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By Tobias Barker, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Paladina Health

Many people may assume that it’s only the very sick and elderly who are at greatest risk of dying from the Coronavirus, but new data show there are other populations at high risk, as well.

Analyzing data from 44,672 patients, China’s CDC estimates that the fatality rate in COVID-19-infected patients with no other health problems is 0.9%. The death rate increases more than ten-fold to 10.5% for patients with cardiovascular disease, 7.3% for those with diabetes, and 6.0% if hypertension is present.

In addition, those with such underlying diseases have a 79% greater chance of requiring intensive care or a respirator or both. Those with two diseases had 2.5 times the risk of any of these outcomes. Some experts estimate that these increased risks may be underestimated since a sizable percentage of people don’t even know they have such health problems. The statistics being reported for the Coronavirus are in line with what was seen when we battled SARS and MERS, which are also caused by coronaviruses.

That’s alarming news for people who may not have considered themselves vulnerable. And there are certainly enough people who are afflicted with these ailments who need to better understand their risk. Our own Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in fact, estimates that 60% of Americans have at least one underlying health problem that could compromise their ability to effectively fight off an infectious disease.

The importance of controlling manageable, chronic health problems cannot be overestimated. These diseases are not only life-threatening in and of themselves but, when combined with a global pandemic like the Coronavirus, they can dramatically impair a patient’s ability to survive.

The good news is that these ailments are truly manageable. Certainly, genetics plays a role in a patient’s health, but lifestyle and medications are a significant factor that should not be ignored. Even better news is that we have seen the effectiveness of these interventions. Every month our clinics are reporting success in such critical areas as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol management.

Such success can best be seen in the numbers. Of the 180,000 + patients we served last year, 67% of those with high blood pressure effectively decreased their levels, 37% of those with high cholesterol achieved reductions, 44% of those with uncontrolled A1c reduced their sugar levels, and 38% of obese patients significantly reduced their BMI.

I am very proud of these successes, especially at a time when our nation is facing one of its biggest health threats. It’s a simple fact: people who aren’t burdened by other health problems stand a much better chance of fending off the potentially deadly effect of whatever new infectious disease comes along, whether it’s Coronavirus, the latest flu strain or something not yet identified. By getting a better handle on such basics as weight, sugar levels and blood pressure, to name just a few, we are giving more people a fighting chance to not only survive a COVID-19 infection, but to achieve a higher quality of life.

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