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New additions to CDC's list of high risk COVID-19 group: What it means for you

Pregnancy is a new addition that may increase risk for a severe case of COVID-19.

The CDC has expanded its list of people who are at high-risk for becoming severely ill from COVID-19. Read on to know more.

It is true that the COVID-19 virus can attack and infect people of all ages and health conditions. But it is also equally true that the virus is particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with chronic health conditions. They are at a very high risk of suffering severe complications and even death if they get the disease. If you are above 65 years of age, your risk is higher even if you are otherwise fit and healthy.

Now, in a June 25 press release, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded its list of people who are at high-risk for becoming severely ill from COVID-19. The new list comes after a review of reports and data sources. This new list includes patients of sickle cell disease and pregnant women in the high-risk category. The age threshold of the "older adult" classification has also now changed. Instead of the earlier classification which said adults 65 and older are at an increased risk of COVID-19, the CDC warns risk "increases steadily as you age."

THE UPDATED LIST: ARE YOU IN IT?

According to the CDC, the most recent list of underlying medical conditions that significantly increases the risk of severe COVID-19 complications includes:

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  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Obesity (defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher)
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • A weakened immune system from an organ transplant

Of course, people of any age affected by these conditions have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. The CDC further says that the following health conditions may also put someone at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Moderate to severe asthma
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Smoking
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Being in an immunocompromised state from things like blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, or the use of corticosteroids

KNOW THE DIFFERENCE

The new guidance includes both additions and updates to previously-identified high-risk categories.

Age

The new guidance says that the risk of severe complications of COVID-19 increases with age. Previously, the CDC limited age-related risk to those 65 and older. However, while the CDC says that people above 85 are at the greatest risk, for the most part, it offers generalities. People in their 50s are at higher risk than people in their 40s and people in their 60s or 70s are more at risk than people in their 50s.

BMI

Earlier, according to the CDC, people with a BMI of 40 or above (classified as "severely obese") faced a higher risk of COVID-19. Now, that figure is 30 or above (classified as "obese").

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a new addition that may increase risk for a severe case of COVID-19. A study published recently in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report may be behind this addition. According to this study, pregnant women are 50 per cent more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than women who were infected and not pregnant. They were also 70 per cent more likely to need a ventilator.

PRECAUTIONS THAT YOU MUST TAKE

The current global pandemic leaves everyone vulnerable to infection. But your risk goes up if you are already suffering from some chronic ailment like heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. So, you need to take extra care of yourself. Follow the guidelines laid down to keep you safe. According to the CDC, you must keep in mind that the more people you interact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer those interactions last, the higher your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. If you decide to go out in public, practice social distancing, wear face masks and washing your hands regularly with soap and water. Keep a cloth facial covering, tissues and a hand sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol handy for emergencies. Other than this, take your medications, follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

Consult your doctor immediately if you suspect any symptoms or have any questions. But remember that just because you have a health condition, it does not mean that you will suffer from severe and often fatal complications of COVID-19.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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