Two or more pre-existing health issues could translate into a 48 percent higher risk of testing positive for the coronavirus, according to a new study published Friday.
A body of research has already linked certain health conditions, in particular diabetes, to a higher chance of testing positive for coronavirus and a higher chance of mortality from the disease.
The new study, led by the UK’s University of Glasgow, found that the presence of multiple health conditions can significantly increase the chance of a patient testing positive for the virus.
The presence of two or more long-term health conditions, known medically as multimorbidity, and taking multiple medications, known as polypharmacy, was found to equate to a 48 percent higher chance of a patient testing positive for the virus.
However, in cases where the issues present were cardiometabolic, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, this chance jumped to a 77 percent higher risk.
“Multimorbidity and polypharmacy are global healthcare challenges in their own right. Our study shows that having a positive COVID-19 test is more common in those living with these health conditions,” Dr. Barbara Nicholl, a lead in the study from the University of Glasgow said in a statement published by the University.
“These results will be important for public health and clinical decisions in the future as we continue to manage the health of those at greatest risk of a severe COVID-19 infection during this pandemic,” she added.
The greater the understanding that scientists and health authorities can have on who is most at risk of the coronavirus will help tailor future responses to the pandemic and prevent further loss of life, Professor Frances Mair, the University of Glasgow Norie Miller Professor of General Practice, explained in the statement.
“Given the high prevalence of multimorbidity, particularly in older age groups, the more detailed understanding of the associations between these complex health needs and COVID-19, as provided in this study, will improve our understanding of the risks and help us better advise those most vulnerable to severe infection,” he said.