On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an expanded list of who is at increased risk for getting severely ill from COVID-19.
In addition to what we already knew–older adults and people with underlying medical conditions remain at increased risk for severe illness–CDC has further defined age- and condition-related risks.
- COVID-19 risk related to ageCDC has removed the specific age threshold from the older adult classification. CDC now warns that among adults, risk increases steadily as you age, and it’s not just those over the age of 65 who are at increased risk for severe illness.
- COVID-19 risk related to underlying medical conditionsCDC also updated the list of underlying medical conditions that increase risk of severe illness after reviewing published reports, pre-print studies, and various other data sources. CDC experts then determined if there was clear, mixed, or limited evidence that the condition increased a person’s risk for severe illness, regardless of age.There was consistent evidence (from multiple small studies or a strong association from a large study) that specific conditions increase a person’s risk of severe COVID-19 illness:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher)
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
- Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes
These changes increase the number of people who fall into higher risk groups. An estimated 60 percent of American adults have at least one chronic medical condition. Obesity is one of the most common underlying conditions that increases one’s risk for severe illness – with about 40 percent of U.S. adults having obesity. The more underlying medical conditions people have, the higher their risk.
“Understanding who is most at risk for severe illness helps people make the best decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield MD. “While we are all at risk for COVID-19, we need to be aware of who is susceptible to severe complications so that we take appropriate measures to protect their health and well-being.”
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One thought on “Severe COVID-19 illness: CDC expands list of who is at increased risk”
When the COVID-19 pandemic first appeared, I recall that hypertension was in the list of high-risk preconditions. Is that no longer the case? By itself, that may explain some of the higher risk for Afro-Americans from COVID-19, though poorer access to health care is certainly also a factor. Unlike most diseases with an ethnic or racial link, which are usually rare diseases or diseases of little consequence, hypertension is rampant and a serious condition among Afro-Americans. When I was in school, a popular hypothesis was that this was due to a genetic screening event that occurred on the slave ships. The enslaved were given only a minimal amount of water for the voyage, so those people whose bodies conserved water were more likely to survive. As evidence, it was noted that Africans from the ancestral homelands of Afro-Americans do not exhibit an elevated risk of hypertension. I’m also curious whether that hypothesis is currently generally accepted or debunked. If it’s true, then it should be possible to find a hypertension gene. Has that been done?