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CDC Update Regarding COVID-19 Risk Factors (Adults and Children)

The CDC has just updated its list of underlying medical conditions that put individuals at risk of severe illness, or even death, from COVID-19. 

This CDC guidance includes risk factors for adults as well as children. 

The most prevalent risk factor that puts adult American’s in jeopardy is body weight. 

According to the CDC, approximately 42% of American’s 20 years old or older are obese, and almost 72% are overweight or obese.  Overweight and obese adults have an increased risk of severe illness or death. 

Unfortunately, I am in this class of at-risk adults.  But, I am not satisfied to let events take their course, and I am trying to control my future. 

Since COVID-19 started, I have been trying to exercise more and have changed my diet. 

And, like magic, my weight goes down every day by a little bit.  On the new diet and exercise regime, I am dropping about 3 to 4 pounds a week.  I feel better, have more energy, and my blood pressure has decreased. 

Now, instead of being in the highest risk category, I am merely in a high-risk category. 

I am confident that if I continue to diet and exercise, I will lose enough weight so that I am not in an increased risk category. 

Below are the risk factors that have been identified by the CDC. 

COVID-19 and Underlying Medical Conditions

People with the following conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  1. Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  2. Cancer
  3. Chronic kidney disease 
  4. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  5. Obesity (BMI of 30 or greater) 
  6. Severe obesity (BMI of 40 or greater)
  7. Sickle cell disease
  8. Smoking
  9. Type 2 diabetes
  10. Weakened immune system from solid organ transplantation 

People with the following conditions might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  1. Asthma (moderate to severe)
  2. Cerebrovascular disease
  3. Cystic fibrosis
  4. High blood pressure
  5. Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  6. Liver disease
  7. Overweight (BMI between 25 and 30)
  8. Pregnancy
  9. Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissue) 
  10. Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  11. Type 1 diabetes
  12. A weakened immune system from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids or other immune weakening medications 

CDC guidance on children and underlying medical conditions includes:

Children with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness compared to children without underlying medical conditions. Current evidence on which underlying medical conditions in children are associated with increased risk is limited. Children with the following conditions might be at increased risk for severe illness: obesity, medical complexity, severe genetic disorders, severe neurologic disorders, inherited metabolic disorders, congenital (since birth) heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and other chronic lung diseases, and immunosuppression due to malignancy or immune-weakening medications.

We do not yet know who is at increased risk for developing the rare but serious complication associated with COVID-19 in children called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), nor do we know what causes MIS-C.

Mark Sunshine

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