Chronic Conditions and COVID-19: Taking Care of You

Chronic Conditions and COVID-19: Taking Care of You

Diabetes, asthma, heart disease, cancer. These and other chronic conditions need your attention every day – even with COVID-19 limiting some of our normal routines. These conditions also mean you have a higher risk of getting very ill if you catch the virus.

We’ve heard a lot about the greater health risks the elderly and nursing home residents have from COVID-19.  But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns people of all ages with certain underlying illnesses leaving site icon such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes can be in danger.

Data collected by the CDC shows that almost 90 percent of those hospitalized for COVID-19 had an underlying health issue.

You are at higher risk of getting very sick leaving site icon from COVID-19 if you suffer from:

  • Chronic lung disease
  • Moderate to severe asthma
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Diabetes
  • A weak immune system due to HIV, AIDS, an organ transplant, or current cancer treatment
  • Severe obesity
  • Chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis
  • Liver disease
  • Blood disorders such as sickle cell disease
If You Are High Risk

If you are over age 65 or have a serious illness or chronic health problem, it is vital that you follow the guidelines for staying safe:

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Wear a mask when in highly populated areas.
  • When you must go out, keep six feet between yourself and others.
  • Wash your hands often using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol when you can’t wash your hands.
  • Sanitize countertops, doorknobs and other surfaces used often daily.
  • Isolate yourself from others in your household (even pets) if you are exposed to COVID-19 or start showing symptoms.
  • Seek prompt medical care if you feel unwell or suspect that you may have COVID-19.
5 Steps to Stay Safe
  1. Plan ahead. Stock enough groceries and supplies to last a few weeks. Get your medicines refilled so you don’t run out. If you live alone, ask a friend, neighbor or family member to check on you often.
  2. Take your medicine. If you take a prescription drug, don’t stop taking it without talking to your doctor.
  3. Follow doctor’s orders. If you're under a doctor’s care, you may already know what you should do to manage your health condition. Be sure to keep doing it or reach out if you are not sure.
  4. Keep your appointments. Call ahead to confirm any scheduled doctor’s visit. In some cases, your visit may be switched to a phone or video visit.
  5. Create a care plan. Call your doctor if you have questions about what you should do if you start to have symptoms. Your doctor can discuss your concerns and help you put a care plan leaving site icon in place that you can share with family and caregivers.
Sources: People with Certain Medical Conditions, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023; Underlying Medical Conditions Associated with Higher Risk for Severe COVID-19, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023; FAQs: What You Should Know About COVID-19 and Chronic Medical Conditions, leaving site icon Cleveland Clinic, 2020; Develop a Care Plan, leaving site icon CDC, 2020

Originally published 6/17/2020; Revised 2022, 2023