The 6 underlying health conditions that greatly increase your chances of getting Covid-19, and make it more deadly.

As the number of cases of coronavirus continues to rise, especially in Europe now, what has become clear is how many of the patients to die from the virus have underlying health conditions that make them susceptible to catching it, and make the prognosis worse.

As the number of cases of coronavirus continues to rise, especially in Europe now, what has become clear is how many of the patients to die from the virus have underlying health conditions that make them susceptible to catching it, and make the prognosis worse.

This is a new infection, but from our experience with dealing with flu epidemics, we know that people with various conditions will fare worse. A paper has just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that looked at the first 1,001 cases in Wuhan. The figures showed those with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, COPD, cancer and renal disease, fared worse.

A Chinese study has found people with heart disease, diabetes and cancer had a 79 per cent chance of being admitted to intensive care or dying from the virus, due to their weakened immune systems.

Here are the underlying health conditions that put you at higher risk of getting the coronavirus a reminder of how it might initially spread.

The virus spreads in a similar way to flu or the common cold, in large droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. The virus can live on hard surfaces for several days.

Public Health England defines having close contact with a virus carrier as being within two metres of the person for 15 minutes.

For people who might have coronavirus, health officials are urging a “catch it, bin it, kill it” approach. In short, this means means catching sneezes and coughs in tissues, throwing them away, and then washing your hands.

Regular hand washing is considered the most important precaution to reduce the chances of contamination from the virus lingering on surfaces.


People with diabetes face a higher risk of complications if they get the coronavirus, due to the fact their fluctuating or elevated glucose levels leave them with lowered immunity. This also means they have less protection against getting the virus. “Coronavirus or COVID-19 can cause more severe symptoms and complications in people with diabetes,” says Dan Howarth from Diabetes UK. “If you have diabetes and you have symptoms such as a cough, high temperature and feeling short of breath you need to monitor your blood sugar closely and seek medical help.

Heart disease

It’s believed around 40 per cent of hospitalised coronavirus patients have heart disease. Somebody with a heart condition is more likely to have a compromised immune system, so their immune response won’t be as strong if exposed to a virus. COVID-19 also targets the lungs, which could cause problems for a diseased heart that has to work harder to get oxygenated blood around the body.


Asthma is a respiratory condition that leads to inflammation of the breathing tubes that transport air to and from the lungs. “Coronavirus can cause respiratory problems for anyone, but for the 5.4million people in the UK with asthma, the risk is greater. Respiratory viruses like this can trigger asthma symptoms and could lead to an asthma attack.

Those suffering from asthma must carry their inhaler with them as a prevention from an attack should they get coronavirus, and it’s essential to take your preventer, daily as prescribed. This helps cut the risk of an asthma attack being triggered by any virus, including coronavirus. Keeping a reliever inhaler to hand is vital, so you can use it if you get asthma symptoms.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

COPD is the name for certain lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties, including emphysema, which is characterised by damage to the air sacs in the lungs, and chronic bronchitis, which is a long-term condition involving inflammation of the lung’s airways. People with COPD are more likely to get coronavirus if exposed to the virus because they have damage to their epithelial lining, which makes it easier for viruses to enter the body.


Cancer patients are more susceptible due to their compromised immune system. Various cancer drugs and treatments, like chemotherapy, mean your immune system may be suppressed, and this would increase your chances of catching the virus. And if you do get it while you have cancer, you would probably fare worse than somebody with the virus who didn’t have cancer.


Whilst not a health condition as such, but many of the thousands of deaths so far have involved elderly people with underlying health conditions. The elderly are at greater risk, and government advice for the elderly to avoid crowded areas is sound advice. The figures we have so far seem to imply the risk increases above the age of 70. However it’s even worse for those over 80. The chances of getting it – and faring worse – increase two or three times above the age the 70, but even more so above 80.

In terms of children, who appear to be less prone to getting the coronavirus and, if they do, getting a more benign version of the illness, a young person with an underlying health condition isn’t at a greater risk. For example, a young person with asthma, or heart disease, wouldn’t be predisposed to get the coronavirus or suffer from it, in the same way an adult with the condition would.