The CDC’s warning reads as follows:
Adults of any age with the following conditions can be more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Severe illness means that a person with COVID-19 may need:
- Intensive care,
- A ventilator to help them breathe,
- Or they may even die.
- Older adults are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. More than 80% of COVID-19 deaths occur in people over age 65, and more than 95% of COVID-19 deaths occur in people older than 45.
- Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put various groups of people at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19, including many racial and ethnic minority groups and people with disabilities.
- Studies have shown people from racial and ethnic minority groups are also dying from COVID-19 at younger ages. People in minority groups are often younger when they develop chronic medical conditions and may be more likely to have more than one condition.
- People with disabilities are more likely than those without disabilities to have chronic health conditions, live in congregate setting, and face more barriers to healthcare. Studies have shown that some people with certain disabilities are more likely to get COVID-19 and have worse outcomes.
Preventive measures for COVID-19 (including vaccination, wearing a mask and physical distancing) are important especially for older people or for people who have multiple or severe health conditions.
List of medical conditions in adults that worsen COVID-19 severity
The CDC completed an evidence review process for each medical condition on this list to ensure they met criteria for inclusion in the guidance. This list may be updated as the science evolves and health authorities learn more about COVID-19.
Having cancer can make people more vulnerable to get severely ill from COVID-19. Treatments for many types of cancer can weaken the body’s ability to fight off disease. At this time, based on available studies, having a history of cancer may increase a persons risk.
Chronic kidney disease
Having chronic kidney disease of any stage can make people more vulnerable to get severely ill from COVID-19.
Chronic lung diseases, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension
Chronic lung diseases can make people more vulnerable to get severely ill from COVID-19. These diseases may include:
- Asthma, if it’s moderate to severe
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis
- Having damaged or scarred lung tissue such as interstitial lung disease (including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis)
- Cystic fibrosis, with or without lung or other solid organ transplant
- Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs)
Dementia or other neurological conditions
Having neurological conditions, such as dementia, can increase people’s risk to get severely ill from COVID-19.
Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
Having either type 1 or type 2 diabetes can increase people’s risk to get severely ill from COVID-19.
Having Down syndrome can increase the risk to get severely ill from COVID-19.
Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies or hypertension)
Having heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, and possibly high blood pressure (hypertension) can make people more vulnerable to get severely ill from COVID-19.
Having HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can increase people’s risk to get severely ill from COVID-19.
Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
Having a weakened immune system can make people more vulnerable to get severely ill from COVID-19. Many conditions and treatments can cause a person to be immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system. Primary immunodeficiency is caused by genetic defects that can be inherited. Prolonged use of corticosteroids or other immune weakening medicines can lead to secondary or acquired immunodeficiency.
Having chronic liver disease, such as alcohol-related liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and especially cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, can increase people risk to get severely ill from COVID-19.
Overweight and obesity
Overweight (defined as a body mass index (BMI) > 25 kg/m2 but < 30 kg/m2), obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m2 but < 40 kg/m2), or severe obesity (BMI of ≥40 kg/m2), can make people more vulnerable to get severely ill from COVID-19. The risk of severe COVID-19 illness increases sharply with elevated BMI.
Pregnant women are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant women.
Smoking, current or former
Being a current or former cigarette smoker can make people more vulnerable to get severely ill from COVID-19. If you currently smoke, quit. If you used to smoke, don’t start again. If you’ve never smoked, don’t start.
Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain
Having cerebrovascular disease, such as having a stroke, can increase a person’s risk to get severely ill from COVID-19.
Substance use disorders
Having a substance use disorder (such as alcohol, opioid, or cocaine use disorder) can make people more vulnerable to get severely ill from COVID-19.
Get more information:
- How to Recognize a Substance Use Disorder,
- Learn more about people who have Substance Use Disorder and COVID-19 via the CDC.
Increased Substance Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Increased stress can lead to increases in alcohol and other substance use, according to the CDC. The practices of the alcohol industry also play a direct role.
Suggestions to may help a person who using alcohol or other substances, or is increasing their use during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Contact the healthcare provider,
- Attend a virtual treatment or recovery program,
- Discuss options for medications to treat alcohol or opioid use disorders with your healthcare provider,
- Take medicine as prescribed and continue therapy, treatment, or support appointments (in person or through telehealth services) when possible,
- Call the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service to speak with someone about your alcohol or other substance use problem, and
- Practice harm reduction techniques to minimize risks to yourself or loved ones.