These common health conditions can make coronavirus especially dangerous

The coronavirus isn’t just another flu…

Maybe you already know that, but in social circles, it’s something that keeps coming up. I’m not sure if friends are in denial or, more likely, avoiding all the news reports.

That’s not surprising. As Americans, we are inundated with over-reactionary headlines and news anchors that seem a little too excited to share bad news.

It’s depressing, but it’s also dangerous not to pay attention to the developments concerning this coronavirus. So, I’m sorry if you are just as tired of our seeing our headlines about it. But we have an obligation to share what we’re learning as those on the front lines are sharing it.

Let’s dive in…

What’s different about COVID-19

Even though 80 percent of COVID-19 cases are mild, people are developing severe cases and people are dying.

An observational study in The Lancet that involved seriously ill adults hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 early in the outbreak in Wuhan, China, found that advanced age, signs of sepsis, and blood clotting issues were all risk factors for in-hospital death.

But what’s happening with COVID-19 that’s unlike what we see with influenza is this:

COVID-19 is more fatal across all age groups than seasonal influenza, with death rates six to 10 times higher for those under 50.

In fact, younger people are just as likely to get coronavirus as senior adults, according to a clinical report of more than 72,000 patients published February 21 by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and their chances of a severe case are up there…

They found that of the 163 severe cases reported, 41 percent were young adults, 31 percent were aged 50 to 64, and 27 percent were above 65. The only age group spared by severe COVID-19 appeared to be kids under 14.

Related: 5 ways to prepare your home and family for coronavirus

That’s why, according to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, “We shouldn’t categorize it by young or senior.”

Instead, doctors say a person’s outcome has a tremendous amount to do with underlying health conditions… ones that are far too common in the American population.

So, in order to best protect yourself, everyone and anyone no matter age or health condition should practice what we’ve been hearing from the experts to avoid exposure and spread of coronavirus, including avoiding crowds and unnecessary travel and washing our hands and keeping them out of our faces.

But if you have any of the common underlying medical conditions we’re about to go over — according to what the Chinese CDC saw with the initial outbreak — the severity of the infection and increased risk of death is a very serious matter for you or your loved ones. And you need to ramp up your protection…

COVID-19 ramps up cardiac distress 

You already know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. Needless to say, far too many Americans have this underlying condition which, along with high blood pressure, can cost them their lives if they’re infected with the coronavirus.

Previous research found that tangling with a virus can lead to a heart attack or even trigger a stroke. In fact, the results of a Canadian study confirmed that flu victims aged 35 and older were six times more likely to have a heart attack during the first week following a flu diagnosis.

Why? Pinning down the exact cause, even now with coronavirus, has been difficult but one suspect is the massive amount of inflammation that comes with fighting respiratory infections, like influenza or coronavirus.

Unfortunately, coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease in the US. The CDC reports that about 18.2 million adults age 20 and older have CAD and they estimate that 2 in 10 deaths from CAD happen in adults less than 65 years old.

According to Erin Michos, a cardiologist and director of Women’s Cardiovascular Health at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, “We know, especially for people who have no history of cardiovascular disease, that inflammation can be a trigger for a plaque rupture,” Michos says.

So it makes sense that in people with cardiovascular disease the threat is even worse.

The diabetes danger from COVID-19

Diabetes can spur atherosclerosis and accelerate the kind of plaque ruptures Dr. Michos referred to. And those with the disease also have relatively suppressed immune systems, making them more vulnerable to infections. states that when people with diabetes develop a viral infection, it can be harder to treat due to fluctuations in blood glucose levels and, possibly, the presence of diabetes complications.

But not only that, a study on another coronavirus showed that diabetic mice have a more severe and prolonged inflammatory response in their lungs when exposed to the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). They had a delayed and prolonged inflammatory response in their lungs, meaning they weren’t mounting a good response against the infection. This is likely why diabetics get more severe MERS-CoV infections… and are more susceptible to severe cases of flu, pneumonia and other respiratory infections — including COVID-19.

Lung disease and COVID-19

Lung diseases and conditions affect people of all ages. These include cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma or allergies, as well as lung damage linked to smoking.

If your lung health is compromised even a common cold could be a battle. But an international effort to share X-ray and CT scans has helped experts see what COVID-19 does to the lungs, and it’s not pretty…

Related: The hidden heart attack-asthma-vitamin C connection

The CT scans of COVID-19 patients have revealed white patches in the lungs which radiologists have called ground-glass opacities because they show up on the scans looking similar to ground-glass windows.

These images reveal that the lungs of those infected are being ravaged by the virus and filled with sticky mucus that prevents them from inhaling because there is no space for air.

In serious cases of infection, the COVID-19 virus invades the cells that line the respiratory tract and lungs and enters the mucus, causing pneumonia. Severe lung damage from pneumonia can result in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which in turn can cause septic shock.

Managing chronic conditions during a pandemic

Managing a chronic condition is vitally important all the time, but during a time of added threat, there is no wriggle room.

Follow your doctor’s orders, stay on top of your medication, and stick to all the rules including avoiding anything that can worsen your condition.

Be sure your medications will be available to you without having to make extra trips to possibly crowded pharmacies or doctor’s offices.

Make sure prescriptions are not running out anytime soon by checking to see if any need authorizations before your next refill. Get them filled in 90-day quantities if possible.

Related: The world’s most powerful anti-viral super-vitamin

What else can you do?

It would not hurt to begin supplementing vitamin D if you do not already — and if you, do make sure you take enough to help your immune system.

Generally, people take 400 IUs for bone health, but that’s not enough if your goal is boosting your immune system or tamping down the inflammation threat you could face from a COVID-19 infection. The recommended dosage is 1,000 International Units (IU) daily or 5,000 IU twice weekly of vitamin D3 to boost and maintain your levels of this powerful anti-viral vitamin adequately.

A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that in diabetes patients with low vitamin D, macrophage cells (immune cells altered by inflammation) were more likely to adhere to the walls of blood vessels. Those adhesions trigger cells to load up with cholesterol, eventually causing the vessels to stiffen and block blood flow. This doesn’t sound too unlike what leads up to the scenario for a plaque rupture that was described above.

Anyone with diabetes or heart disease should consider increasing vitamin D. Because of its immune support, so should people with lung issues. But another vitamin may also be especially helpful for you…

Vitamin C has been shown to improve lung function in people suffering from asthma: Vitamin C helps with inflammation and is a natural antihistamine, and unfortunately, a vitamin C deficiency is common in people with severe asthma.

We have to remember that the heart and lungs are very interconnected. If you have a hard time breathing your pulse is going to go up. If you have blocked arteries, your lungs and your heart are going to be working harder to circulate blood and oxygen throughout your body. When I’ve researched arterial health, one vitamin keeps coming up: Vitamin K2.

According to Dr. Michael Cutler, vitamin K2 at 100-150 mcg daily decreases C-reactive protein (a non-specific marker of inflammation), increases arterial elasticity, decreases arterial plaque, decreases coronary heart disease and total mortality.

If you take longterm antibiotics, especially from the class cephalosporins, you may have a vitamin K deficiency. That’s because these antibiotics kill beneficial vitamin K-activating bacteria in your body. However, if you take blood thinners, talk to your doctor before supplementing K2.

Now’s the time to take extra precaution — not just to avoid COVID-19 — but to avoid any complications from these common health conditions.

If we all do our part to cut down on community spread, lives will be saved.


  1. These underlying conditions make coronavirus more severe, and they’re surprisingly common — National Geographic Science
  2. Coronavirus: What X-rays and CT scans reveal about how COVID-19 kills — Sky News
  3. The best of the heart healing supplements — Easy Health Options
Margaret Cantwell

By Margaret Cantwell

Margaret Cantwell began her paleo diet in 2010 in an effort to lose weight. Since then, the diet has been instrumental in helping her overcome a number of other health problems. Thanks to the benefits she has enjoyed from her paleo diet and lifestyle, she dedicates her time as Editor of Easy Health Digest™, researching and writing about a broad range of health and wellness topics, including diet, exercise, nutrition and supplementation, so that readers can also be empowered to experience their best health possible.