COVID-19 and Comorbidities
May 17, 2021
What is a comorbidity?
A comorbidity can be defined as a secondary medical issue attached to a primary issue. For instance, a person who has diabetes and hypertension, or diabetes and kidney failure. In the context of COVID-19, the virus is known to severely progress and cause a lot of complications when it infects people who already have certain underlying health conditions. Comorbidities compromise the body’s fight against the virus, increases risks and complicates treatment. Some prominent comorbidities associated with COVID-19 are Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Chronic Lung Disease, Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases, Chronic Renal Disease, Chronic Liver Disease, Hypertension etc.
COVID-19 primarily affects the respiratory system. But the heart and lungs work together to get oxygen to every part of the body. A weakened heart is struggling to pump oxygenated blood. Inflammation in the lungs can affect heart muscles and can complicate the treatment. Individuals with heart conditions, such as heart failure, dilated cardiomyopathy, advanced forms of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy and patients with congenital cyanotic heart disease are at highest risk. Complications reported include myocarditis, acute cardiac injury, thromboembolism, arrhythmia etc.
People with diabetes do face a higher chance of experiencing serious complications from COVID-19. However, If diabetes is well-managed, the risk of getting severely sick from COVID-19 is much lesser. In people with diabetes, the immune system is hampered by elevated blood sugar levels. When blood sugar is high, the immune system response is slow, inefficient and incomplete.
Chronic Lung Disease
Like most of the flu, Coronavirus is a respiratory disease. When the virus reaches the lungs, mucous membranes become inflamed. That can damage the alveoli of lung sacs and they have to work harder to carry out their function of supplying oxygen to the blood. This can result in pneumonia. People with respiratory diseases like Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are likely to suffer a lot when Coronavirus encounters them. That combination of infection and inflammation causes the breathlessness that can cause oxygen levels to drop.
Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases
Innate immunity is what is necessary to fight against viruses entering our body. So If one is immunocompromised due to a disease, the system is less efficient in its job. People with primary immunodeficiency diseases like Chronic Granulomatous Disease (CGD), Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID) and Congenital Neutropenia Syndrome could be severely affected if they contract the COVID-19 virus.
The high number of severe COVID-19 cases among hypertensive patients is strongly linked to weak immunity. Hypertensive patients need to take extra care in this pandemic to avoid risk.