Chronic Diseases and the Risk of COVID-19
We are possibly amid the most significant health epidemic of our generation.
The novel coronavirus, now known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the disease it causes COVID-19, has as of today, infected more than 378,000 and killed some 16,000 patients worldwide.
The most recent update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that in the United States alone, there are more than 33,000 confirmed cases and 400 deaths linked to the disease.
The disease is a cause of great concern for vulnerable groups, including the elderly and chronic disease patients.
Underlying Health Conditions That Can Place Patients at Greater Risk From Coronavirus
Public health officials from around the world have stated that COVID-19 is currently the most significant threat to those with a compromised immune system or those living with chronic illnesses.
Among the most cited conditions that can pose an increased risk are:
- Heart Disease
- Lung Disease
- High Blood Pressure
However, patients living with autoimmune diseases also have a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19.
Patients who are undergoing treatment for the following conditions need to take extra precautions to avoid infection.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Patients with chronic autoimmune illnesses are predisposed to infections, such as from the COVID-19 disease, due to the immunosuppressive therapy drugs that are part of their disease management.
So far, there is no evidence that the virus, SARS-CoV-2, or the disease it produces COVID-19, cause significant symptom flareups of the illnesses mentioned above.
However, these conditions involve severe immune system imbalances which can compromise the patient’s ability to fight infection, placing them at a potentially heightened risk of developing complications from COVID-19.
Steps to Prevent Infection
The CDC recommends following these steps to prevent infection and the spread of the virus:
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you cannot wash your hands with soap and water
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose with unwashed hands
- Clean and disinfect shared areas, including surfaces and objects, especially those that are touched frequently
- Avoid contact with anyone who is sick
- Follow all public health official recommendations including social isolation
While it appears that most patients experience mild to moderate symptoms, high-risk groups may suffer severe or even life-threatening symptoms.
Symptoms can appear as early as two days or as late as 14 days after exposure, and include:
- Difficulty Breathing
What to Do If You Are Sick
Anyone who believes they’ve been in contact with the virus and has developed symptoms should immediately contact their doctor. This is especially important for patients with a chronic illness. Maintaining open and honest communication with your physician is imperative.
Patients who develop any of the following warning signs should seek immediate medical attention:
- Severe breathing difficulties
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest area
- Bluish lips, fingertips, or face
- New or unusual confusion
It’s vital to call ahead before visiting the doctor’s office or hospital.
Recognizing the increased susceptibility of chronic disease patients is of the utmost importance to us. For this reason, at Altus Infusion, we are doing our part to help keep patients well informed. Together we can help stop the spread of this disease.
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Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. Any content regarding symptoms and possible treatment of illnesses is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Altus Infusion does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the information published in its blog and will not be held responsible for the content of any blog publication.
You should always consult your primary care physician for specific medical advice.