Implications of Chronic Diseases on COVID-19

COVID-19 can affect different populations with varying severity. Most individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 face mild symptoms which include fever, dry cough and body ache but there is still a hand of people who face severe symptoms like pneumonia leading to hospitalization. Therefore, if you are an individual who has an underlying medical condition, it can put you at an elevated risk of severe symptomology of COVID-19. It is important to remember that there is not enough evidence to indicate that those with underlying conditions are more likely to get COVID-19 compared to the general population, but one may be at a higher risk of severe complications particularly the vulnerable population such as the elderly. 


Diabetes


Regarding diabetes, if one is unable to manage their diabetes within its range, this can play a factor in COVID-19 complications due to fluctuating blood sugar. This is due to the immune system being compromised resulting in the body working much harder to combat the virus as it can develop in an environment of heighted blood glucose and is likely to proceed in a longer recovery period. In addition, if one has a viral infection, it can increase inflammation or internal swelling as the blood sugar may be high, possibly contributing to further complications. As there are different types of diabetes, for those who have type 2 diabetes, it increases their risk of COVID-19 serious complications. For type 1 diabetes or gestational diabetes it may increase the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.  


Cardiovascular Disease


About 1 in 3 people with cardiovascular disease (CVD) has COVID-19 as it is a common condition. The reason behind the higher risk is because the coronavirus agent can affect different cells throughout the body. This is because the virus can attach on an enzyme called angiotensin converting enzyme - II (ACE-II) which is found throughout the body such as lungs, heart, brain and lining of blood vessels leading the virus to spread further throughout the body placing those with CVD at a higher risk. Therefore, it is important to take the prescribed medication whether it is angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or ACE-II to treat conditions such as heart failure or high blood pressure. It may result in more ACE-II enzymes throughout the body which can make an individual more susceptible to COVID-19 but it also reduces inflammation and offer protection for the lungs.  

It is important to take measures to ensure one’s health and safety. Some actions to take included but not limited to are: 

  • Continue to take your medication as prescribed by your healthcare provider (diabetic pills, insulin, ACE-II).

  • Check your blood sugar and record your results as indicated by your healthcare provider.

  • Ensure you have a minimum of a 30-day supply of your medications.

  • If you do not feel well, speak with your primary or community healthcare provider.

  • If you do require any life-saving or emergency care treatment, do not delay it.


Written by: Shenen Sivakumar

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