Groups at Higher Risk for Severe Illness


COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe illness. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Reduce your risk of getting sick with COVID-19


Learn what else you can do as someone who may be at higher risk for severe illness, including staying home and away from other people as much as possible.

 

Actions you can take based on your conditions and other risk factors


 

Conditions and Other Risk Factors

Asthma (moderate-to-severe)


 

Moderate-to-severe asthma may put people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Actions to take

Why you might be at higher risk?

COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), cause an asthma attack, and possibly lead to pneumonia and serious illness.

Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis


Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis may increase a person’s risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Actions to take

Why you might be at higher risk?

Dialysis patients are more prone to infection and severe illness because of weakened immune systems; treatments and procedures to manage kidney failure; and coexisting conditions such as diabetes.

Chronic lung disease


 

Chronic lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (including emphysema and chronic bronchitis), idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and cystic fibrosis, may put people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Actions to take

Why you might be at higher risk

Based on data from other viral respiratory infections, COVID-19 might cause flare-ups of chronic lung diseases leading to severe illness.

Why you might be at higher risk?

People with diabetes whose blood sugar levels are often higher than their target are more likely to have diabetes-related health problems. Those health problems can make it harder to overcome COVID-19.

                                  Hemoglobin Disorders


 

Hemoglobin disorders such as sickle cell disease (SCD) and thalassemia may put people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Actions to take

Why you might be at higher risk?

Living with a hemoglobin disorder can lead to serious multi-organ complications, and underlying medical conditions (such as heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, iron overload, kidney disease, viral infections, or weakened immune system) may increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Immunocompromised


 

Many conditions and treatments can cause a person to have a weakened immune system (immunocompromised), including cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, HIV with a low CD4 cell count or not on HIV treatment, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications. People who are Immunocompromised

Actions to take

Why you might be at higher risk?

People with a weakened immune system have reduced ability to fight infectious diseases, including viruses like COVID-19. Knowledge is limited about the virus that causes COVID-19, but based on similar viruses, there is concern that immunocompromised patients may remain infectious for longer than other COVID-19 patients.

Liver disease


 

Chronic liver disease,  including cirrhosis, may increase risk for serious illness from COVID-19.

Actions to take

Why you might be at higher risk?

Severe illness caused by COVID-19 and the medications used to treat some severe consequences of COVID-19 can cause strain on the liver, particularly for those with underlying liver problems. People living with serious liver disease can have a weakened immune system, leaving the body less able to fight COVID-19.

People aged 65 years and older


 

Older adults, 65 years and older, are at higher risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19.

Actions to take

Why you might be at higher risk?

Although COVID-19 can affect any group, the older you are, the higher your risk of serious disease. Eight out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years or older; risk of death is highest among those 85 years or older. The immune systems of older adults weaken with age, making it harder to fight off infections. Also, older adults commonly have chronic diseases that can increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility


 

Many cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. have occurred among older adults living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities

Actions to take

Why you might be at higher risk?

The communal nature of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and the population served (generally older adults often with underlying medical conditions), put those living in nursing homes at higher risk of infection and severe illness from COVID-19.

Serious heart conditions


 

Serious heart conditions, including heart failure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathies, and pulmonary hypertension, may put people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Actions to take

Why you might be at higher risk?

COVID-19, like other viral illnesses such as the flu, can damage the respiratory system and make it harder for your heart to work. For people with heart failure and other serious heart conditions this can lead to a worsening of COVID-19 symptoms.

Severe obesity


 

Severe obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above, puts people at higher risk for complications from COVID-19.

 Actions to take

Why you might be at higher risk

Severe obesity increases the risk of a serious breathing problem called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is a major complication of COVID-19 and can cause difficulties with a doctor’s ability to provide respiratory support for seriously ill patients. People living with severe obesity can have multiple serious chronic diseases and underlying health conditions that can increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

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groups-at-higher-risk.html