YOUR risk of dying from coronavirus is 80 per cent higher if you have just one underlying health issue, a new study has claimed.
For those with two pre-existing conditions or more, the chances of being admitted to intensive care are even higher, experts have warned.
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Researchers from the China Medical Treatment Expert Group for Covid-19 analysed data from almost 1,600 hospital patients in China.
They found that 20 per cent of coronavirus patients with any underlying health condition were either admitted to ICU, needed ventilation or died – compared with five per cent of healthy people.
The scientists identified cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as the most at-risk pre-existing medical condition for coronavirus.
Half of the patients with COPD – a type of lung disease that affects 1.2 million in the UK – in the study were moved to ICU or died.
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While in comparison, that figure was around 20 per cent for those with high blood pressure, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
The research, published in the European Respiratory Journal, included information from 1,590 coronavirus patients with an average age of 49 at 575 hospitals between December 2019 and January 2020.
Findings showed 16 per cent of the patients ended up with severe Covid-19, while 8.2 per cent reached “composite endpoints” – either intensive care, ventilation or death.
Lead study author Wei-jiie Guan, of Guangzhou Medical University, said 50 of the patients died, giving a mortality rate of 3.1 per cent for those hospitalised.
Patients with a pre-existing condition were found to have an 80 per cent increased risk of developing serious Covid-19.
That figure doubled for those with at least two underlying medical issues, the experts found.
Cancer patients were at the highest risk – with a 250 per cent increase in serious outcomes, and COPD sufferers had a 170 per cent higher chance.
Overall, a quarter of the patients had at least one underlying health problem – the most common as high blood pressure.
The academics were unclear about whether this meant that having hypertension would put people at a higher risk of coronavirus or because the condition is more common.
Underlying health conditions that put you at risk of coronavirus
Some of the chronic conditions said to heighten the risk among patients are:
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – emphysema or bronchitis
- Primary Immumodeficiency (PID)
- Chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- Chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- Problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- HIV and AIDS
- Being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)
Eight per cent had two or more conditions – some of which co-exist together, such as diabetes and COPD – which the scientists noted.
The findings weren’t broken down by age but did show by each underlying condition how severely people fell ill or whether they died of the disease.
They showed that a quarter of all COPD patients died and 30 per cent were admitted to ICU – although it’s not clear whether that figure includes those that went on to die.
It comes as researchers found that almost all of the deaths from coronavirus in Italy were patients who had a pre-existing medical condition.
A study by the Italian health service into 335 deaths found that just three of fatalities had been otherwise healthy before they were infected.
Almost half had at least three underlying health problems before they were diagnosed.
According to the study by Italy’s National Institute of Health, the most common of these problems include high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
Scientists are yet to establish why people with high blood pressure appear to be more susceptible to coronavirus.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the says it needs “more data to become available” to properly investigate a connection.
Another recent study in China revealed that people with illnesses including heart disease, diabetes and cancer had a 79 per cent greater chance of being admitted to intensive care, being put on a ventilator, or dying from coronavirus.
This is down to their weakened immune systems and their bodies lacking the strength to deal with a viral infection, they said.