*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
New research suggests that having an underlying health condition might be one of the most significant risk factors for developing a severe case of COVID-19.
Scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took a look at a group of U.S. adult COVID-19 patients and found roughly three-quarters of those who wound up in the hospital had at least one underlying health issue.
For 457 patients who were admitted to intensive care, 78% had other health conditions, while 71% of 732 patients admitted to the hospital, but not intensive care, had at least one other health issue.
The mortality data showed an even stronger correlation: Among all hospitalized COVID-19 adult patients with complete information on underlying conditions or risk factors, 184 deaths occurred. Of those, 173 (94%) involved patients with at least one underlying condition, according to the CDC’s COVID-19 Response Team, led by researcher Nancy Chow.
Those conditions include diseases that strike people of all ages, including asthma and diabetes, along with heart disease and lung disease.
Unfortunately, those very conditions are quite common among Americans, the researchers noted: In 2018, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes among U.S. adults was just over 10%, while the prevalence of heart disease was 10.6% in 2017. Meanwhile, the prevalence of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) among U.S. adults was almost 6% and the prevalence of asthma among persons of all ages was nearly 8% in 2018.
The findings were published in the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Underlying conditions can be a big player in COVID-19 severity, but many young adults mistakenly believe that only older people are affected by the coronavirus — a misconception that puts themselves and others at risk, experts warned.
A growing number of 20- to 44-year-old Americans have been hospitalized for COVID-19.
While the rate of COVID-19 deaths is highest for those older than 85, the rate of confirmed cases is highest (29%) among 20- to 44-year-olds, according to the CDC.
People with elevated risk include those who have underlying health conditions such as chronic lung disease, diabetes or heart disease; are overweight; have a weakened immune system; are pregnant, or are older than 65.
High-risk people need to take social distancing seriously to avoid contracting the coronavirus, said Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at UT Health School of Public Health.
But everyone is at risk, including young people, Troisi emphasized.