As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, growing concern about those most vulnerable to the virus is on the rise.
Health organisations and governmental bodies across the world are taking steps to protect their vulnerable populations. In the US, the CDC is recommending people over the age of 60 and those with underlying conditions to stock up on food and medication, and avoid venturing out.
Certain medical conditions make you more susceptible to severe disease, even if you’re under 60.
People with HIV, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and high blood pressure all have a higher chance of developing severe symptoms or dying from COVID-19.
On July 14, the CDC expanded its list of underlying conditions that could increase your risk of severe COVID-19 to include dementia, sickle cell anemia, and whole organ transplants, among others.
Here’s what to know about those conditions and what to do if you have one.
HIV can make patients vulnerable to serious disease.
Older people living with HIV face a higher risk of severe disease because of the lack of medical treatments available when HIV/AIDS was first discovered, making them more immuno-compromised than people who were infected more recently, according to Them.
“These are folks that are also more likely to have diabetes or chronic obstructive airways disease, which are both concerns,” Dr Peter Meacher, the New York’s Callen-Lorde health centre’s chief medical officer, told Them.
In an effort to limit patients’ exposure to hospitals, Meacher told Them he is considering giving out large quantities of HIV treatment prescriptions so that patients will be able to stay away from hospitals from longer.
Nearly 50 percent of all Americans have high blood pressure – a condition that can be dangerous when paired with the novel coronavirus.
Nearly half of all Americans have some level of high blood pressure, meaning they may be more susceptible to some of the more dangerous effects of the coronavirus.
While experts don’t yet know exactly why people with poor cardiovascular health are at a higher risk for dying from the virus, doctors believe that the added strain put on the lungs from the coronavirus may put more strain on the heart as well.
Heart disease can impact a patient’s chance of surviving the coronavirus.
Any kind of cardiovascular condition can leave a patient more susceptible to severe disease from the virus. Coronavirus patients with heart disease have a 10 percent chance of dying.
The CDC and American Heart Association urge patients with these kinds of conditions to take the same precautions as those with high blood pressure.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes also increase susceptibility to severe disease or death.
The CDC added type 2 diabetes to its list of at-risk groups on July 14.
Respiratory conditions can impair the lungs’ capacity to fight off the virus.
That is, in part, why smokers are deemed an at-risk group.
Cancer patients also are at a higher risk of severe disease or death from the coronavirus.
In addition to respiratory risks, cancer patients also are unable to take certain vaccines and treatments to help boost their immune systems in general. Chemotherapy and other treatments can render them immunocompromised as well.
Sickle cell anemia increases people’s risk of death from COVID-19, disproportionately affecting Black people.
Sickle cell anemia is a genetic blood disorder that impacts over 100,000 Americans – a majority of them are Black. While healthy red blood cells are round, people with sickle cell anemia have crescent-shaped cells.
Their shape causes them to get stuck in blood vessels, leading to pain, clots, and even stroke, according to the CDC.
In March, the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America warned that the combination of sickle cell anemia with COVID-19 could be deadly.
People with sickle cell anemia also have to pick up medications and get blood transfusions, meaning they can’t stay shielded at home, and if they do they are at-risk.
Kidney disease can leave people immunocompromised and unable to fight off the virus.
Data suggest the excessive blood-clotting seen in COVID-19 patients has damaged their kidneys – a particular concern for people already dealing with kidney disease.
People who have had whole organ transplants take immunosuppressive drugs, leaving them more vulnerable to infections and viruses like COVID-19.
Obesity is now on the CDC’s list of conditions that could be deadly when combined with COVID-19.
As emerging research develops and some experts across the US anecdotally note the disproportionate number of obese patients who have died from COVID-19, the CDC has placed obesity on the list of conditions considered high risk when mixed with COVID-19.
Psychologists and eating disorder therapists told Business Insider that singling out obesity as a problem was problematic in itself, and further stigmatizes people.
One of the genes associated with Alzheimer’s is linked to easier COVID-19 transmission.
The Korea Brain Research Institute found one of the receptor genes associated with Alzheimer’s, a degenerative brain disorder, can be linked to COVID-19.
Research suggests people with Alzheimer’s have elevated expression of the gene ACE2, which is an entry point for the coronavirus.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung disease that causes inflammation that can obstruct your airway, which can be especially deadly with a case of COVID-19.
Doctors urge immunocompromised people to come up with a plan of protection before venturing into public spaces and to wash their hands thoroughly.
Ultimately, the best defence against the virus is to wash your hands, disinfect surfaces, and avoid crowds. While this may sound daunting, there are plenty of ways to help people cope with the isolation that may come from staying indoors.
Living room-friendly workout routines and quarantine-friendly meal prepping tips, along with calling friends and family or communicating through social media, can be helpful to get through it.
This article was originally published by Business Insider.
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