March 31 (UPI) -- Americans with diabetes, chronic lung disease and heart disease appear to be at higher risk for severe COVID-19 compared to those who are otherwise healthy, a new analysis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed.
Figures released Tuesday by the agency show nearly 30 percent of patients with underlying conditions who have acquired the virus required hospitalization and 94 percent of those who have died of the virus had at least one underlying health condition.
The findings are similar those seen in Wuhan, China, where the global pandemic started, researchers say.
"Today's preliminary U.S. data show that people with select underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic lung disease, and known risk factors for respiratory infections -- for example, smoking -- appear to be at higher risk for severe disease," a CDC spokeswoman told UPI. "And these results are consistent with findings from China and Italy, which suggest people with underlying health conditions and risk factors might be at higher risk for severe disease or death from COVID-19."
Given the prevalence of these health conditions in the United States, the fact that COVID-19 seems to attack these populations more aggressively here as well is hardly good news. Nearly 80 million people nationwide are living with high blood pressure, for example, according to the American Heart Association, while the CDC estimates that more than 30 million have some form of diabetes and 20 million suffer from heart disease.
Many people suffer from more than one of these conditions, as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure are often linked, researchers also note.
As UPI reported earlier this month, a small study of COVID-19 patients in Wuhan found that, among those who died from the infection, roughly half had underlying chronic conditions, the most common being high blood pressure and diabetes.
The new CDC analysis of nearly 75,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States echoed these findings. Among adults 19 and older, as many as 30 percent with underlying health conditions have required hospitalization to treat the infection, compared to 7 percent of those who were otherwise healthy.
Nearly 15 percent of those with underlying health conditions have required admission to the ICU to treat the virus, while just over 2 percent without underlying conditions have needed treatment in the ICU. Of those with underlying conditions, the most common were diabetes, heart disease and lung ailments like asthma, COPD and emphysema.
Among the 184 patients included in the CDC analysis who died from COVID-19, 94 percent had at least one underlying condition.
"Persons with underlying health conditions who have symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should immediately contact their health care provider," the agency wrote in the report.