Almost One Third of Coronavirus Patients Have This Underlying Condition
The CDC says that cardiovascular disease is the most commonly reported underlying condition.
While it may seem like we've been living through this pandemic forever, COVID-19 is still a relatively newly discovered disease. Researchers, doctors, and public health agencies are racing to understand all of its nuances in order to slow the spread, develop more effective treatments, and ideally create a vaccine. To that end, data from existing cases is crucial, and it seems as though we're learning more about coronavirus all the time. Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated "Case Surveillance" numbers and conclusions, tracking reported COVID-19 cases from late January through the end of May, including any underlying conditions that patients were known to have. While several groups have been determined to be at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, these new numbers show that almost one-third of coronavirus patients had some form of cardiovascular disease.
According to the CDC's report, 32 percent of recorded patients had cardiovascular disease, making it the most commonly reported underlying condition. At a close second, 30 percent had diabetes, and 18 percent had chronic lung disease. The agency also notes that numbers were similar across sexes. However, age is a factor, with half of coronavirus patients with cardiovascular disease being 70 or older and few being under the age of 39. Deaths were 12 times higher in patients reporting at least one of these underlying conditions; hospitalizations were six times higher.
Though COVID-19 is a respiratory infection, it can affect the heart, particularly in patients whose cardiovascular health is already weakened. Per Johns Hopkins, this is because the coronavirus utilizes the ACE-2 protein, which normally helps to protect the heart and lungs from inflammation. Damage can occur because a lack of oxygen in the blood of a COVID-19 patient causes their heart to work harder; because the heart itself is inflamed (a condition known as myocarditis); or because the infection causes stress in the body that leads to cardiomyopathy, which makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood and can lead to heart failure.
Considering how severely COVID-19 can impact a person with cardiovascular disease and their higher chance of being infected, people with cardiovascular disease—especially seniors—should be taking precautions. The American Heart Association recommends following the CDC's guidelines, which include frequent and thorough hand washing, staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask when you can't maintain at least six feet of distance between you and others, avoiding touching public surfaces, and avoiding touching your face. They also advise that people with heart disease stay in touch with their doctors through telemedicine in case any serious complications arise. And for more on how COVID-19 can exacerbate certain health issues, read about how You Could Develop This Serious Condition If You Get Coronavirus.