Certain pre-existing conditions increase mortality risk for COVID-19

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Cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, stroke, and cancer increase a patient's risk of dying from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to a new international study by researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine and published in the journal PLOS One.

For the study, the research team conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies published from December 2019 through early July 2020, to determine which chronic conditions put hospitalized patients at risk of dying from COVID-19. They explored 11 co-existing conditions that pose a risk of severe disease and death among COVID-19 patients, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, asthma, chronic liver disease, and HIV/AIDS.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 65,000 patients and 25 studies worldwide. Patients in the selected studies had an average age of 61 years. The researchers found that certain pre-existing health conditions affected survival rates more than others. When compared to hospitalized COVID-19 patients without pre-existing conditions, the researchers determined that patients with diabetes and cancer are 1.5 times more likely to die, patients with cardiovascular disease, hypertension and congestive heart failure are twice as likely to die, and patients with chronic kidney disease are three times more likely to die, according to the study.

Prior studies exploring the association of pre-existing chronic conditions and COVID-19 mortality had limitations in the number of countries included, the number of studies included and the number of conditions explored, the researchers said. They also said these studies had unaddressed sources of bias that limited the conclusions that can be drawn from them.

Even though additional research is needed to fully understand health risks and implications, particularly in understanding the effects of race and ethnicity on COVID-19 survival rates, the researchers said these findings can help inform global prevention and treatment strategies.

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