Why is COVID-19 affecting people with chronic conditions seriously?

May 5, 2020by Health Desk

Fear of the unknown is what makes people anxious and this is especially true in today’s times as we don’t have all the answers yet about SARS-CoV-2. But we are continuing to learn more each day. We do know, elderly and people with chronic conditions, suppressed immunity and obesity are at increased risk for severe complications from coronavirus infection.

After SARS-CoV-2 enters the nose and throat it requires the cell surface receptor called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor to enter a cell. Throughout the body, the presence of ACE2, which normally helps regulate blood pressure, marks tissues vulnerable to infection. Once inside the cell the virus damages the cell making myriad copies of itself and invading new cells. People with a weakened immune system as seen in chronic medical conditions and older age cannot fight back SARS-CoV-2 during this initial phase. The virus then marches down the windpipe to attack the lungs. The thinner, distant branches of the lung’s respiratory tree called alveoli are also rich in ACE2 receptors. The intense immune response in the lungs due to infection leads to pneumonia, with its corresponding symptoms: cough; fever; shortness of breath. The lungs, which are primarily affected by the virus, may not be able to get enough oxygen to the heart. The heart muscle may have to work harder. People with heart disease and lung disease already have a compromised function. All of this can lead to added stress on the lungs and heart, which then can have a ripple effect on other organs.

Even though COVID-19 affects lungs primarily it is a systemic disease and can trigger intense immune reactions in various organs. It is also believed that SARS-CoV-2 targets blood vessels. The weakened immunity and pre-existing damage to the blood vessels put people with diabetes and high blood pressure at a higher risk of serious disease. 

All of us should take the necessary precautions of preventing the spread of infection; however, those with chronic conditions have additional steps they can take to reduce their risk of severe disease which includes quitting smoking, controlling blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and sticking to a healthy lifestyle.

According to the ADA, if diabetes is well managed, a diabetic’s risk for serious illness from a coronavirus infection is similar to that of the general population. So, by getting your diabetes under control, you are not only improving immune function, preventing complications but you are also reducing the risk for serious illness from coronavirus infection.

Feeling under pressure is a likely experience because of the pandemic. The stress around COVID-19 can exacerbate existing mental health issues. Coping with stress will make you and the people you care about stronger. Managing your mental health and psychosocial well-being during this time is as important as managing your physical health.

KnowYourMeds was created with a mission of promoting and encouraging healthier habits aiming to improve health outcomes. KnowYourMeds has added 116 medical conditions to its chronic conditions management feature including diabetes, hypertension, asthma, PCOS, endometriosis, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders.

Along with medication adherence, people with chronic conditions can track the progression and complications of the disease by monitoring health metrics. These health metrics are designed keeping in mind how different metrics are indicators of different stages of the disease progression. Monitoring health metrics will guide you in keeping your goals within the recommended range and help assist doctors in providing the right kind of treatment for you at the right time. This has becomes more important now during the global pandemic.

In addition, KnowYourMeds will be continuously updating the guidelines and recommendations on Covid-19, as well as sharing useful resources at: KnowYourMeds.com/covid19.

To download the free app for iOS or Android, visit: KnowYourMeds.com.