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Dr. Hackani: COVID-19 High Risk Group Expands

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Within the past two weeks, the US Centers for Disease Control and Management has expanded the list of COVID-19 high-risk conditions. The list of conditions includes all age groups. According to the CDC, the underlying illness was responsible for 6 times more hospitalization and 12 times more deaths compared to those infected with coronavirus but not at high risk. It is estimated that at least 60% of the United States population has one or more chronic illnesses.

New high-risk group for all ages

People with chronic kidney disease and those diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are at increased risk. COPD refers to some abnormal breathing conditions. These problems with the lungs cause problems with the heart and other organs throughout the body. Not only are these all exacerbated by COVID-19, they can also contribute to the exacerbation of infections.



People who are diagnosed with obesity and who have a compromised immune system as a result of a solid organ transplant are at increased risk of infection. Some cardiovascular issues have also been added. Anyone who experiences heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathy is at greater risk of infection and complications. Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. This is a collection of myocardial (myocardial) disorders in which abnormal myocardium is associated with mechanical and/or electrical dysfunction, usually ventricular hypertrophy.


Sickle cell disease and other hemoglobin disorders also put people at a higher risk. Another condition in CDC, the hemoglobin disorder thalassemia, causes inappropriate amounts of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. The red blood cells are eventually destroyed and the body becomes anemia. Anemia weakens the body and makes it vulnerable to coronaviruses and other infections.


Another addition to the high risk status list is type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a decrease in sensitivity to insulin, which is called relative insulin deficiency. It accounts for 90% of all diabetes cases.

One of the reasons for worsening symptoms is the high likelihood of inflammation during a viral infection. Instability in blood sugar causes problems. Not only is inconsistent glucose levels impaired, but there is evidence that higher glucose levels can cause the virus to propagate.


Other complications caused by diabetes as a result of the more risky contract with COVID-19 are heart and kidney disease, hypertension, diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage, and stroke.

Impact of specific conditions on the elderly

Of the cases of COVID-19 in Americans age 65 and older, several conditions have been identified as being most likely to accelerate COVID-19. For people of that age group, the most common underlying health conditions were cardiovascular disease (32%), diabetes (30%), and chronic lung disease (18%). Patients with reported underlying disease were hospitalized 6 times more often and 12 times more likely to die than those without.

Chronic conditions where risk levels are monitored

In addition to the chronic underlying problems above, formally added to the high-risk category, the CDC is also observing the impact of COVID-19 on conditions that may increase risk. Although not conclusive, they are being scrutinized as more cases are diagnosed.

They include dementia, moderate to severe asthma, cerebrovascular disease, cystic fibrosis and pulmonary fibrosis. Type 1 diabetes, in which the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed, is also being monitored. It constitutes about 5-10% of all diabetic cases.

Take precautions

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, specific reinstatement strategies have been amended by state and local governments, but people of all ages are encouraged to enter the workplace and engage in other activities, especially those with underlying illnesses. You need to be careful when restarting.

Ask Dr. Hakkani

If you have any questions about cardiovascular health, such as heart, blood pressure, stroke lifestyle, and other issues, we’ll be happy to answer. Questions should be emailed to Dr. haqqani ([email protected]).

Dr. Omar P. Haqqani is the Head of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Vascular Health Clinics in Midland. www.vascularhealthclinics.org

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