COVID-19: ‘Underlying health conditions most at risk’

COVID-19, coronavirus, restrictions, Italy

After the words ‘coronavirus COVID-19’, you’re likely to hear that those most at risk are “the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.”

So, what are those “underlying health conditions” we should worry about if we are over the age of 60? Does that term mean anyone with a long-term health issue is doomed if they contract coronavirus?

“There is a good chance that even those who have underlying health conditions will make a full recovery from the virus, but they are at increased risk of complications such as shortness of breath, pneumonia, and in some cases, needing a machine and intensive hospital treatment to help them breathe,” Dr Amir Khan, a National Health Service doctor and Senior Lecturer at The University of Leeds School of Medicine and The University of Bradford in the UK, wrote on al-Jazeera

The incidence of coronavirus COVID-19 across the world on 17 March.
The incidence of coronavirus COVID-19 worldwide on March 17. China is in red with countries to have less than 10,000 cases in light yellow. Source: WHO

In Milan, Italy, it has been reported that the number of coronavirus cases is overwhelming the health system. Italy has the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the world.

“A lot of patients need help with breathing but there are not enough ventilators,” Martina Crivellari, an intensive care cardiac anaesthesiologist at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, told ITV.

“They’ve told us that starting from now we’ll have to choose who to intubate – priority will go to the young or those without comorbidities.

“At Niguarda, the other big hospital in Milan, they are not intubating anyone over 60, which is really, really young.”

Dr Khan said that new things are being learned about the coronavirus.

“Current evidence shows that people who have diabetes (of any kind) are most at risk of developing complications and needing intensive hospital care, followed by those with underlying heart conditions, then lung conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),” he wrote.

Dr Khan urged anyone with diabetes – 415 million people worldwide have the illness – to speak with the clinician who manages your diabetes and make sure you are on the right medication.

“Ensure you are taking your medication as prescribed. It may sound silly but lots of my patients forget to take their medication or only take it when they see fit,” he wrote.

“Improving your diet by cutting down on carbohydrate-rich foods (bread, chapattis, potatoes and pasta, as well as cakes and sweets) and increasing your physical activity levels will help to bring your blood sugars down and help give your immune system the best possible chance of fighting off the coronavirus.”

China reported 13 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total there to 80,894 with 3,237 deaths. Italy announced 3,526 new cases, bringing the country’s total to 31,506 and 2,503 deaths. And Iran reported 1,178 new cases, the biggest 24-hour increase the country has seen, bringing its total to 16,169.

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