What Does It Mean To Have Comorbid Conditions In COVID 19 Pandemic?

India has lost its second patient in the RML hospital, Delhi. The 69 years old lady caught the infection from her son who had recently returned from Italy. The initial report pointed out that the patient was already suffering from comorbid conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. After infection, her conditions deteriorated rapidly and she could not be saved despite the best medical efforts.

Dr. Ashish Jaiswal, Senior Respiratory Physician and Chest Specialist, says “COVID 19 resembles a lot to seasonal flu. According to the CDC majority of flu-related deaths and hospitalisation occur in people above 65 years of age. COVID 19 has shown similar pattern and the two patients that India has lost were above the age of 65 years. The majority of infections of COVID 19 are mild. However, patients who have pre-existing comorbid conditions like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, or lung disease are twice more likely to develop serious COVID 19 infection in comparison to a healthy young individual.”

Elderly and people with pre-existing comorbid conditions are at the highest risk

Dr. Raman Kumar, President of Academy of Family Physicians India, says, “In a recent study conducted in Wuhan, the epicentre of the pandemic, it was found that 19% of patients who lost their lives in the hospital were also had diabetes. The study also pointed out that hypertension and prolonged usage of non-invasive ventilation were also important factors in the deaths of these patients. As per the largest study published on COVID 19 in Jama, the average mortality of COVID 19 is 2.3% which rises steeply to 15% in patients above 80 years of age. These studies have made it pretty clear that the elderly and people with pre-existing comorbid conditions are at the highest risk to develop serious COVID 19 infection.”

“People only get infected when they come in contact with an infected person’s droplets. The first patient that India lost had a travel history to Saudi Arabia whereas the second patient caught the infection from her son who had a travel history to Italy. Studies have already confirmed that people with comorbidities are at a higher risk, and both of these patients have diabetes and hypertension. Therefore, it is essential for people with comorbidities to exercise extreme precautions to keep themselves safe.” added Dr. Jaiswal.

Dr. Kumar further added, “People who develop symptoms of COVID 19 should stay away from elderly people at their homes to prevent cross infections. People with a comorbid condition should have enough medicines on them for their conditions and follow hygiene habits like washing their hands regularly and disinfecting regularly touched surfaces at home. In case they develop any symptom, they should seek medical advice immediately”.

Dr. Kumar suggests some important preventive measures which everybody should follow:

  • Stay away from large gatherings
  • Stay away from sick people
  • Wash hands with soap regularly
  • Avoid touching eyes, mouth and nose
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces with home disinfectants
  • If you develop symptoms, quarantine yourself and seek medical advice


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