Diabetes, heart disease and long-term lung problems are the most common underlying conditions among Americans hospitalized with the illness caused by the new coronavirus, but more than one in five people requiring intensive care had no such health issues, according to a report issued on Tuesday.
The findings show that higher percentages of COVID-19 patients with underlying conditions were being admitted to hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. That echoes patterns seen in other countries hit hard by the pandemic.
Preliminary data from 7,162 COVID-19 patients for whom the CDC had complete information as of Saturday show that 37.6% had one or more underlying health condition. Widespread testing to identify the full extent of the U.S. outbreak has not been available.
Most people infected with the coronavirus develop mild but persistent symptoms such as fever or cough. But difficulty breathing is a symptom sending many people to the hospital, and the new data show how underlying health conditions heighten the odds of complications requiring hospitalization.
Researchers found that 78% of ICU patients with COVID-19 had at least one underlying health problem, including diabetes (seen in 32% of patients), cardiovascular disease (29%) and chronic lung disease (21%). Twelve percent had long-term kidney disease and 9% had a weakened immune system.