As coronavirus deaths surpass 183,000 in America, a new report from the CDC says 94% of fatalities tied to the virus involved contributing health conditions. In fact, per Axios, "for deaths with conditions or causes as well as COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death, according to the CDC." Read on to find out what their symptoms were, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Vulnerable lungs, caused by issues like pneumonia, were a common theme among pre-existing conditions. "In pneumonia, the lungs become filled with fluid and inflamed, leading to breathing difficulties. For some people, breathing problems can become severe enough to require treatment at the hospital with oxygen or even a ventilator," reports Johns Hopkins. "The pneumonia that COVID-19 causes tends to take hold in both lungs. Air sacs in the lungs fill with fluid, limiting their ability to take in oxygen and causing shortness of breath, cough and other symptoms."
In what is perhaps a preview of the fall, patients who had influenza were hit hard by the coronavirus. "State health officials are desperately ramping up flu vaccination efforts, hoping to prevent health care systems already taxed by Covid-19 from being overrun by the rapidly approaching influenza season," reports Politico. "Massachusetts is requiring every kid to get a flu shot to attend school or childcare. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer got vaccinated on live television, stressing that immunization could help save precious hospital resources."
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus so, naturally, having a respiratory illness as a pre-existing condition can result in a double whammy. Panagis Galiatsatos, M.D., M.H.S. notes that "when a person has COVID-19, the immune system is working hard to fight the invader. This can leave the body more vulnerable to infection with another bacterium or virus on top of the COVID-19—a superinfection. More infection can result in additional lung damage," reports Johns Hopkins.
"Hypertensive heart disease refers to heart problems that occur because of high blood pressure that is present over a long time," reports MedLine Plus. "High blood pressure means the pressure inside the blood vessels (called arteries) is too high. As the heart pumps against this pressure, it must work harder. Over time, this causes the heart muscle to thicken." COVID-19 taxes the heart even more, and can result in death.
"Having type 2 diabetes increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19," reports the CDC. "Based on what we know at this time, having type 1 or gestational diabetes may increase your risk of severe illness from COVID-19." The agency recommends you "continue taking your diabetes pills and insulin as usual; test your blood sugar and keep track of the results, as directed by your healthcare provider; and make sure that you have at least a 30-day supply of your diabetes medicines, including insulin."
Vascular and Unspecified Dementia
"Vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID) are conditions arising from stroke and other vascular brain injuries that cause significant changes to memory, thinking, and behavior," reports the National Institute on Aging. "Two forms of VCID—vascular dementia and vascular cognitive impairment (VCI)—arise as a result of risk factors that similarly increase the risk for cerebrovascular disease (stroke), including atrial fibrillation (a problem with the rhythm of the heartbeat), high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol."
Not only can having heart disease make COVID more deadly, but COVID can lead to a heart attack. "As more data comes in from China and Italy, as well as Washington state and New York, more cardiac experts are coming to believe the COVID-19 virus can infect the heart muscle," reports Kaiser Health News. "An initial study found cardiac damage in as many as 1 in 5 patients, leading to heart failure and death even among those who show no signs of respiratory distress."
As you just read, COVID and heart failure can go hand in hand. "It's extremely important to answer the question: Is their heart being affected by the virus and can we do something about it?" said Dr. Ulrich Jorde, the head of heart failure, cardiac transplantation and mechanical circulatory support for the Montefiore Health System in New York City, to Kaiser Health News. "This may save many lives in the end."
"Kidney (renal) failure is when kidneys don't work as well as they should. The term 'kidney failure' covers a lot of problems," reports the Urology Care Foundation. "Acute Renal Failure occurs when the kidneys suddenly stop filtering waste products from the blood. Chronic Renal Failure is permanent loss of kidney function." "People with kidney disease and other severe chronic medical conditions are at higher risk for more severe illness," reports the National Kidney Foundation. "People on dialysis can have weaker immune systems, making it harder to fight infections."
Intentional and Unintentional Injury, Poisoning and Other Adverse Events
Any event that may compromise the body's immune response—like an accidental injury or poisoning—can put you further at risk for a damaging bout of COVID-19.
Other Medical Conditions
"People of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19," reports the CDC:
Chronic kidney disease
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
Sickle cell disease
Type 2 diabetes mellitus
The list goes on and on unfortunately; see here for more.
How to Avoid Coronavirus
Do what the scientists say, especially if you have an underlying condition (or conditions): Wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these COVID Mistakes You Should Never Make.