Understanding the risk of underlying health conditions for Covid-19: A summary of new research published in the European Respiratory Journal.

COVID-19 can be a serious illness for some people, particularly those living with other conditions. A new study has asked what the risk of serious illness is for people living with a range of different conditions. The aim was to help healthcare professionals understand which people may require extra care if they become ill.

The researchers collected information from hospitals in China from over 1,500 people who had COVID-19.  This information included whether they had any other conditions and what happened to them during their stay in hospital.

The researchers were interested to see whether having an existing condition made a person more likely to experience three situations, which they called ‘outcomes of care’. These included:

  •  Being admitted to the intensive care unit
  •  Receiving ventilation to help them breathe
  •  Dying with the disease

They found that people with existing conditions were more likely to experience one of the situations listed above (close to 1 in 5 people compared with almost 1 in 20 people without a pre-existing condition). They also found that people with two or more of these conditions were at an even higher risk.

Patients with the following conditions were more likely to reach one of the three outcomes of care, compared with those without any underlying health issue:

  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cerebrovascular diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic kidney diseases
  • Malignancy

Why is this important?

The study has provided further evidence that COVID-19 can be a more serious illness for people living with underlying health conditions. The study also confirms that those living with more than one condition, for example people who may have COPD alongside diabetes, are at a greater risk than those living with one condition. This is important for healthcare professionals working on the frontline.  It suggests that thorough medical histories should be taken when people are taken to hospital to help prioritise care for the people most at risk.

If you are admitted to hospital with COVID-19 and you have underlying conditions, it is worth informing your medical team about already existing conditions and any medications that you are taking.


Read the original research paper:

Title: Comorbidity and its impact on 1590 patients with Covid-19 in China: A Nationwide Analysis
The reference DOI: 10.1183/13993003.00547-2020

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