Throughout the pandemic, underlying conditions have been one of the major
risk factors that can impact how severe the virus affects you. According
to the CDC, underlying conditions were responsible for six times as many
hospitalizations and 12 times as many deaths compared to those who contracted
the coronavirus but did not have high-risk issues. While the term can
mean any condition that affects your health, there are a few underlying
conditions that put patients at a much higher risk for hospitalization
from COVID-19. As more data has come in, the CDC has updated its list
to include conditions that we have the most evidence for putting patients at risk.
Here are the most current conditions on the
Specific heart conditions – The CDC’s list has listed “serious
heart conditions” all along, but has now specifically highlighted
heart failure, coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathy. Nearly 30 Louisiana residents die of heart disease every day.
Obesity – New indications are that those with
body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher are at higher risk. The initial list indicated a BMI over 40, which is
considered “severe obesity.” Nearly 37% of Louisianans are
in this group, landing the state at #4 spot nationwide, behind Mississippi,
West Virginia and Arkansas.
Organ transplant – People with a
compromised immune system from a solid organ transplant are in higher danger of infection.
Hypertension – People with
uncontrolled or untreated high blood pressure may be at risk of getting severely ill with COVID-19, as well as more
at risk of complications from COVID-19, than those whose high blood pressure
is managed with medication. High blood pressure is a major risk factor
for heart disease and stroke.
Cerebrovascular disease – includes stroke, carotid stenosis, aneurysms, vertebral stenosis
and intracranial stenosis, and vascular malformations of the brain and spine
Other conditions on the list are chronic kidney disease, COPD (chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease), sickle cell disease, and Type 2 diabetes.
Asthma, smoking, pregnancy, and the use of corticosteroids or other immunosuppressive
medications are also on the list, though the CDC notes the evidence is
not yet as strong for those conditions.
The CDC will continue to update this list as needed. If you have questions
about your cardiovascular health, including heart, blood pressure, stroke
risk, and other issues, talk to your doctor so that together, you can
come up with a plan to stay on top of your health.
Dr. Stephen McCulloh, Family Medicine
Baton Rouge General Physicians - Family Medicine (O'neal)