To date, there have been 51.2 million cases of COVID in the U.S. and over 806,000 Americans have died, the New York Times reports. People of any age can contract the virus and while most recover within a reasonable amount of time, the chances of dying increases greatly with certain factors. LetsGetChecked’s Executive Director of Epidemiology, Dr. Gwen Murphy, Ph.D., MPH says “It is important to remember that the majority of people who contract COVID-19 will recover within a few weeks. However, those with underlying medical conditions are at an increased risk of developing complications and this risk rises with the number of medical conditions that a person has. A full list of conditions which might increase your risk of developing severe COVID-19 is available at the CDC website.” Eat This, Not That! Health talked to doctors who explained who is at high risk of dying from COVID and why. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Dr. Tom Yadegar, pulmonologist and medical director of the intensive care unit at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center says, “COVID-19 does not discriminate against who it infects, but there are patients that are more likely to develop severe symptoms, hospitalization and possibly death from a COVID-19 infection. Currently, patients who are unvaccinated pose the highest risk of hospitalization and death from a COVID-19 infection. Vaccines against COVID-19 continue to be the best protection against serious outcomes of the virus.”
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People with Existing Health Conditions
According to Dr. Yadegar, “Additional patient populations at risk of severe complications include immunocompromised patients and patients with existing chronic health conditions such as obesity and diabetes. The unifying factor across these populations is their weakened immune state, leading to a decreased fighting response their bodies are able to mount against an infection.”
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Dr. Murphy explains, “Having cancer can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Treatments for many types of cancer can weaken your body’s ability to fight off disease. As far as we understand at this time, based on available studies, having a history of cancer may increase your risk too.”
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“People with diabetes are more likely to have severe symptoms and complications when infected with any virus and this is true for coronavirus too,” Dr. Murphy says. “Your risk of getting very sick is lower if your diabetes is well controlled.”
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According to Dr. Murphy, “Viral infections can also increase inflammation, or internal swelling, in people with diabetes. This can also be caused by above-target blood sugars, and that inflammation could contribute to more severe complications.”
Pregnancy Puts You at Risk
Dr. Murphy states, “People who are pregnant or have been recently pregnant are at an increased risk of developing severe illness with COVID-19, meaning they are more likely to require hospitalization and intensive care or ventilation. People who contract COVID-19 during pregnancy are also at an increased risk of early delivery (earlier than 37 weeks). For this reason it is important to get vaccinated if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant.”
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.