COVID-19: Underlying and pre-existing conditions

According to WHO, COVID-19 is a contagious disease that is spread by the newly discovered coronavirus.

 COVID-19 virus poses a greater risk to the elderly and those with underlying and pre-existing medical conditions, particularly diseases that harm the respiratory system.  

An underlying health condition is a chronic or long-term disorder, which can weaken the immune system.

A pre-existing condition is any medical condition that is present prior to the discovery of a new ailment, which may increase the risk of death.

The transmission risk of the COVID-19 virus is especially high when people are sick as it is often transmitted through respiratory droplets.

Italy’s National Institute of Health released that 99% of COVID-19 patients who have succumbed to the virus had at least one pre-existing condition. As of 30th March 2020, Italy has reported 10, 779 deaths linked to the coronavirus.

WHO stated that some of the underlying and pre-existing conditions were cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer and these were more likely to develop serious illness.

Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease is the collective term used for several diseases of the heart and the blood vessels. This term commonly includes heart failure, cardiomyopathy, coronary heart disease, congenital heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

The heart and the lungs are intricately connected and cannot function well without the other. COVID-19 attacks the lungs, so those with heart diseases or hypertension are at a higher risk of infection should they be exposed.

The American Heart Association stated that a significant percentage of people who were hospitalised for coronavirus had an underlying condition.


Diabetes is caused when your blood glucose is too high.

When you suffer from diabetes, it affects the entire body and requires daily self-care. Diabetes can also affect your quality of life and reduces life expectancy.

Although there are three main types of diabetes, they are all complex and serious.

Our body converts glucose into energy so it functions well and to execute this, insulin is critical for this conversion.

Our body can no longer convert glucose into energy when the insulin is diminished. In return, our body burns its fats as a substitute for energy and this releases chemical substances in the blood, which can be detrimental.

Without the presence of insulin in our body, the chemical substances accumulate.

It is quite difficult to treat diabetics if they develop a viral infection because the glucose levels in the blood fluctuate. Additionally, the virus may thrive in a setting of heightened blood glucose.

Chronic respiratory disease

The coronavirus pandemic has serious implications with people suffering from chronic respiratory illnesses such as cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, allergies, and as well as people with lung damage.

If exposed to COVID-19, those with chronic respiratory diseases are at a higher risk of contracting other bacterial infections.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition that affects the lungs and digestive system. It causes the exocrine glands to produce abnormally thick and sticky fluids like mucus, sweat and digestive fluids. In return, these thick fluids block internal tubes and passageways.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive life-threatening lung disease and causes breathlessness as a result of active smoking or inhaling second-hand smoke, exposure to air pollutants, and hazardous dust and fumes.

Asthma is categorised as a non-communicable disease. It is caused by recurring bouts of breathlessness and wheezing. Asthma attacks may differ in its severity and regularity for individuals and can trigger sleeplessness, fatigue, minimised physical activity level, to name a few.


The immune system of cancer patients is usually compromised. This is due to their tumours or the treatments they receive and as such, they need to be concerned about their respiratory conditions.

For this reason, cancer patients undergoing rigorous leukaemia or lymphoma treatment and patients receiving bone marrow transplants are vulnerable to viral infections.

Cancer patients in remission also have the risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Symptoms and prevention

The above underlying conditions may increase the risk of the COVID-19. However, measures must be undertaken to control the spread of the novel coronavirus and prolong longevity.

Apart from the normal symptoms displayed by underlying and pre-existing conditions, patients must contact their doctor immediately

COVID-19 can be spread through:

  • Close contact with an infectious person
  • Contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
  • Touching objects or surfaces that may have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your face.

Symptoms of the COVID-19 are:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

Some preventative measures to undertake:

  • Practice good hygiene
  • Avoid physical contact
  • Social distancing
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Self-care
  • Keep yourself well informed with COVID-19 updates
  • Follow the advice from the Health Department

If you feel unwell:

Private Health Cover

COVID-19 has affected Australia as much as the rest of the world. Without any available vaccine as yet, our public healthcare system will be inundated.

Ranked 20 on the worldometer, as of 30th March 2020 (GMT), it is projected that Australia’s intensive care units will be flooded with those who have contracted COVID-19.

These aforementioned underlying and pre-existing conditions can cost the patient heavily. The long wait to be seen by medical personnel is not something that one desires in our public healthcare.

Healthdeal has partnered with a number of Australia’s leading health funds to find you the perfect health cover to help you cover some of these costs. Our service is absolutely free and we are completely unbiased in our decision.

What are you waiting for? Call Health Deal on 1300 369 399


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