Health, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Chronic illness raises risk from COVID-19: Expert

While self-quarantining, people with hypertension, obesity, diabetes should take medication regularly, says doctor

Yesim Sert Karaaslan   | 03.04.2020
Chronic illness raises risk from COVID-19: Expert

ANKARA

Infection by the novel coronavirus entails more risks for people suffering from chronic conditions such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes, according to a Turkish endocrinologist.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Dr. Mustafa Altay underlined that 71% of all deaths in the world were caused by chronic conditions, including hypertension, obesity and diabetes.

The obesity rate among adults in Turkey is 28.8%, with the prevalence of hypertension at 27.7% and of diabetes 13.7%, Altay said.

In people aged 65 and over, diabetes and obesity are observed twice as often, while hypertension is three times more frequent, he added.

"These diseases disrupt the functioning of the immune system in various ways and cause a predisposition to some infections," he said.

Older people and patients of chronic conditions are at the highest risk from COVID-19, he said, adding: "According to patient data in China, 80% of deaths due to the coronavirus were observed at the age of 60 or over."

The data show that approximately 40% of patients who died of the coronavirus have hypertension and 20% have diabetes.

"According to information from Italy, 95% of deaths were seen at the age of 60 and above, and hypertension was detected in approximately 75% of patients and diabetes in 35%," he said.

He went on to say that the data did not indicate a correlation between obesity and COVID-19.

As part of the fight against COVID-19, Altay recommended that those with chronic diseases should monitor blood sugar and pressure at home, with measurements for glucose to be slightly more often than usual, blood pressure several times a week and weight once a week.

He said that during the pandemic, diabetes, hypertension and obesity patients should continue taking their medications according to their previous schedules, adding that no drug or vitamin supplement has yet been proven to protect against COVID-19.

Further, patients prescribed blood pressure medications should not stop taking them and should not change their intake if their blood pressure values are normal.

Underlining that only official sources should be heeded for information on the virus, Altay urged people to alert authorities if they experience COVID-19 symptoms such as persistent fever, coughing and difficulty in breathing, and follow their directives accordingly.

However, he added that patients should not apply to healthcare facilities for their routine check-ups and other non-urgent problems.

Patients should also take care to maintain a healthy lifestyle while practicing social distancing measures, with a balanced diet -- in accordance with their recommended calorie intake -- with plenty of water and sufficient sleep and exercise.

Altay also stressed that smoking, alcohol and excessive salt consumption should be avoided.

After first appearing in Wuhan, China in December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 181 countries and regions.

Data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University shows worldwide infections surging past 1 million, with more than 54,300 deaths. Over 218,800 people have recovered.

*Writing by Faruk Zorlu

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.
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