Digital Exclusive: What are comorbidities

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(KCAU) – According to the CDC, for 6% of coronavirus deaths reported, COVID-19 was the only cause that was mentioned.

The CDC said for deaths with conditions or causes in addition to the virus, on average, there were 2.6 more conditions or causes per death.

So, the question is what are comorbidities?

“Comorbidities are any chronic health conditions that can occur over the lifespan. This includes things like diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disorders, cancer, things of that sort,” said Lexi Chicoine, MercyOne Medical Center.

Lexi Chicoine, a nurse practitioner at MercyOne Medical Center, said any condition people take medications for and have been diagnosed with by their medical provider or specialist qualifies as an underlying health condition.

“Most commonly, right now, in the COVID-19 era, we have the hypertension, which is the high blood pressure. We have diabetes, we have obesity, and also people with underlying lung conditions, like COPD or asthma,” said Dr. Sandeep Gupta, UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s.

Dr. Sandeep Gupta, a physician at UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s, said nationally, one out of three people might have high blood pressure or hypertension.

He mentions about 10% of the population has diabetes, and around 15 million people in the United States are living with COPD.

“I believe the percentage, right now, is over 50% of people in the United States have one comorbidity or more. That statistic is really high for people who are having comorbidities with people who contact COVID-19. They’re at higher risk of death or complications that can occur related to those comorbidities,” said Chicoine.

The underlying health conditions are impactful because, for people who have those conditions, it lowers their ability to fight the coronavirus if they get it.

People should get regularly tested by their physicians for comorbidities and should get a physical exam at least once a year.

“Get basic blood work, which is lab work done, and know if they are susceptible to develop those chronic medical conditions or even if they have a family history of diabetes and hypertension. Once they reach a certain age, they should really closely follow up with their primary care physicians,” said Dr. Gupta.

Both Chicoine and Dr. Gupta said everyone should be protecting themselves from getting COVID-19 by wearing their masks, avoid gatherings, and keep social distancing.


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