Do Underlying Conditions Increase COVID-19 Risk?

Underlying conditions
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Certain underlying conditions can make COVID-19 more dangerous.

COVID-19 has now been in the United States for about a year.

In this time, many have died.

Many also have recovered.

Like many illnesses, the risk of death increases with age.

Yet other factors influence the impact of the virus.

According to a recent AARP article titled “Three Most Dangerous Underlying Conditions for COVID-19,” the CDC listed about two dozen health conditions placing people at higher risk for serious illness or death from COVID-19.

Underlying conditions can place certain individuals at higher risk of death from COVID-19.
COVID-19 poses greater risks to those with underlying conditions.

The list included dementia, chronic kidney disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

In addition, immunocompromised patients were at higher risk of death.

Of the high-risk underlying conditions, three conditions were of the greatest concern according to research published in the journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases in December 2020.

What are they?

The study found obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure to be associated with a higher risk of death.

These three “inflammatory diseases” are prevalent among many American adults.

Obese individuals have a higher hospitalization rate than other diagnoses with COVID-19.

In fact, they are twice as likely to be hospitalized and 50 percent more likely to die than those who fall within a healthy weight range.

Although obesity is often linked to other underlying conditions, those who were obese and had no other conditions were still seen to have been impacted hard by COVID-19.

Obesity can make it difficult to breathe by limiting lung expansion and can also increase the risk of getting blood clots.

High risk patents who are hospitalized should ask their doctors whether they are a candidate for monoclonal antibodies.

This treatment has reduced hospitalization for high-risk patients by 70 percent.

The second highest risk of the underlying conditions came from  high blood pressure.

According to 22 studies from eight countries in 2020, 42 percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients had high blood pressure.

This is the most prevalent of all health conditions associated with hospitalization.

These patients had twice the risk of dying from COVID-19 than those without high blood pressure.

Even so, the study from the journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases found hypertension to only raise the death rate for those under age 40.

Those over age 40 only saw higher mortality risk only if the hypertension caused a complication like heart damage or chronic kidney disease.

Why is high blood pressure associated with higher mortality?

Some experts think the virus damages cells lining the blood vessels, which in turn make it challenging for blood to carry oxygen.

Those who take medication to control high blood pressure have a lower risk than those who have unregulated high blood pressure.

The third of the underlying conditions associated with higher risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 is diabetes.

According to a study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, the risk of dying from COVID-19 was nearly three times greater for people with Type 1 diabetes and about twice as high for those with Type 2 diabetes than for people with neither.


The immune system is weakened by high blood sugar.

This means the body has a more difficult time fighting infections.

Monitoring your blood sugar levels can help.

According a study published in Cell Metabolism, those who have well-controlled diabetes have a death rate of about one percent from COVID-19 and those with poorly controlled diabetes have a death rate closer to 11 percent.

Taking steps now to manage any underlying conditions could reduce your risk of serious illness or death from COVOD-19.

Reference: AARP (Feb. 3, 2021) “Three Most Dangerous Underlying Conditions for COVID-19”

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