Understanding patient characteristics in regard to a particular disease is helpful for planning and managing it. We are really in the infancy of understanding coronavirus disease and the kinds of patients, if any, it differentially affects. A report from the Centers for Disease Control attempts to identify what pre-existing health conditions and risks patients had before contracting coronavirus disease. (CDC Report) The researchers used 7,162 cases for which relatively complete data was available as of March 28, 2020. Among these cases, 37.6% of patients had at least one of the underlying conditions or health risks. This rate was far higher for patients who ended up in an intensive care unit, 78% of whom had at least one such condition or risk, and those who required hospitalization but not an ICU admission, 71%.
The most commonly reported pre-existing conditions were diabetes, 10.9% of the cases; chronic lung disease, 9.2%; and cardiovascular disease 9%. For patients over age 18, the non-ICU hospitalization rate was higher, about 28.5% of cases, for those with at least one underlying condition or risk than it was for those with none, at only a 7.5% hospitalization rate. For ICU admissions the rate was 14% of cases for people with such conditions compared to those without them at 2.3%. It appears that people with a higher burden of illness before getting coronavirus disease are at higher risk of developing severe disease, including needing to be hospitalized or placed in an ICU. And the data may understate how different the risk is, because they likely are undercounting people with mild symptoms and those who were asymptomatic weren’t included at all. Just some confirmatory evidence for what we already knew, if you are older and if you are in poorer health, you need to be very careful.