The Deadliest Pre-Existing Condition You Could Have With COVID

Many common illnesses can increase your risk of a fatal COVID case, but none more than this one.

The novelty of COVID-19 has meant we are constantly learning more about how the virus functions and how it attacks our bodies. But one of the first things researchers realized was the role that pre-existing conditions—or comorbidities—play in dictating how severe a patient's case is likely to be. Now, new research has taken things one step further, by determining which pre-existing condition is the most fatal when it comes to COVID-19. Read on to find out more, and for the sign to be aware of right now, know that There's an 80 Percent Chance You Have COVID If You Have This Symptom.

The recent meta-analysis from Penn State University—published in the journal PLOS One—looked at a variety of pre-existing conditions. The team reviewed data on nearly 500 COVID cases and determined the following five are the deadliest pre-existing conditions when it comes to COVID-19. Read on to learn which comorbidities mean you need to be extra careful, and for more on the most prominent COVID case in the country, This Is How Likely It Is That Trump Will Get Worse, Doctors Warn.


Cancer patient

1.47 times more likely to die from COVID

The American Cancer Society writes that "doctors are still learning about the possible risks of COVID-19 infection for cancer patients." But they warn that all patients undergoing chemotherapy or stem cell (bone marrow) treatments should be extra careful to avoid infection "because their immune systems can be severely weakened by the treatment." And for more specific information on cancer and coronavirus, be aware that This Type of Cancer Increases Your Risk of Severe COVID by 60 Percent.


Healthcare worker at home visit

1.48 times more likely to die from COVID

Being diabetic doesn't make it any more likely that you'll catch COVID-19, however "the problem people with diabetes face is primarily a problem of worse outcomes," according to the American Diabetes Association. If your diabetes is managed safely and regularly, then you're in a better position, but if your blood sugar levels are fluctuating, other diabetes-related complications are likely. And like all viral infections, COVID-19 is extra risky for diabetics as it can cause inflammation or internal swelling, which is already a risk of above-target blood sugars. Viruses also make patients more likely to experience diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). And if you're concerned about this condition, This Quick Trick Can Determine Your Diabetes Risk, Study Says.


Man checking blood pressure

1.82 times more likely to die from COVID

Elevated blood pressure can be caused by a range of factors from stress to lifestyle. It's described by doctors as "the silent killer" as it can often be present with no symptoms. Early analysis of data from the outbreaks of COVID-19 in both China and the United States showed that high blood pressure was the most commonly shared pre-existing condition among those hospitalized, with 30 to 50 percent of patients having it. Due to the way hypertension can weaken your immune system, it's believed that patients with this condition who do get COVID-19 are likely to be hit by it harder. And for more on this condition, here are 25 Super Effective Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally.

Congestive heart failure

heartburn or chest pain for a man clutching his chest, airplane facts

2.03 times more likely to die from COVID

Congestive heart failure is a progressive, chronic weakening of the heart that sees the ventricles lose their strength and ability to pump sufficient blood to the rest of your body. Early data from China suggests that nearly 20 percent of COVID-19 patients in Wuhan (the epicenter of the original outbreak) demonstrated a cardiac effect called "myocardial injury."

However, analysis by the University of Oxford also stresses that it's important that heart failure patients are not "written off." "For patients with known heart failure, continuation of current therapy is crucial," the experts warn. And to stay up-to-date on the pandemic, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Chronic kidney disease

Woman experiencing kidney disease lower back pain

3.25 times more likely to die from COVID

Smokers, seniors, people who are obese, and diabetics are most at risk for chronic kidney disease. It also runs in families as a hereditary condition and is more likely to occur in African-Americans, Native Americans, and Asian-Americans. COVID aside, chronic kidney disease is especially dangerous as it doesn't cause any symptoms until most of your kidney is destroyed.

But amid the pandemic, these patients are especially vulnerable, considering they're the most likely to die from COVID. "Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have a higher rate of all-type infections and cardiovascular disease than the general population," a June paper in the Clinical Kidney Journal sums up. "A markedly altered immune system and immunosuppressed state may predispose CKD patients to infectious complications. Likewise, they have a state of chronic systemic inflammation that may increase their morbidity and mortality." This research found that the risk for severe COVID-19 is three times higher in those with CKD than those without it. And for more on where the virus is spreading, Here's How Fast COVID Is Spreading in Your State


John Quinn
John Quinn is a London-based writer and editor who specializes in lifestyle topics. Read more
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