Pune, 22 Oct 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the glaring inadequacies of our healthcare services and has brought economies across the world to their knees. The world has seldom faced a crisis of this magnitude and the losses in terms of both lives and finances have been devastating.
But COVID-19 has also served as a wake-up call. Right at the start when the new viral infection was making headlines, doctors and healthcare professionals had tried to drill a fact into our heads- comorbidities can make the disease lethal.
There was a message of hope, if we take better care of our health, we can lower the fatality rate of COVID-19.
What are comorbid conditions?
In medical parlance, comorbidities are additional illnesses that exist alongside the primary illness. Naturally, comorbidities aggravate the patient’s more than if he/she were simply dealing with the primary illness. This can make treatment more complex and long-drawn-out.
In the case of COVID-19, comorbidities can make all the difference between life and death.
Doctors have identified diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, asthma, and kidney diseases as the primary comorbid conditions of COVID-19. And since coronavirus has struck fear in everyone’s hearts due to its sheer apparent invincibility, everyone is taking notice.
The numbers don’t lie
- Studies have found that more than 48% of people who succumbed to the disease had comorbidities. Among these people, nearly 38% had high blood pressure, 19% had diabetes and 8% had some cardiovascular illness
- And these comorbidities are worryingly prevalent in India. 1 out of 3 Indians has hypertension. 7.2 percent of the adult population has diabetes
- Nearly 54.5 million people have cardiovascular diseases. 6% of children and 2% of adults have asthma. And they are all at risk of contracting severe COVID-19
People with hypertension have weakened ACE2 receptors and this makes it easier for coronavirus to bind with them. Diabetes lowers the body’s ability to produce antibodies. Cardiovascular illnesses and asthma or COPD increase the likelihood of the COVID-19 infection progressing to the lower respiratory system.
Savings lives through self-care
While masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene are imperative, people have realized that they need to go beyond that and make their bodies stronger from the inside.
There are 2 ways to go about it. Prevention and management.
- People who do not have these comorbidities have to ensure that they do not contract them. People who have already been diagnosed with any of the comorbid conditions need to ensure that their health does not deteriorate
- Healthy eating and regular exercise are the means to good health for both sets of people. The right kind of diet consisting of whole grains, lentils, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs, and fish as well as steering clear of smoking, fatty/ sugary foods and alcohol can prevent and manage most health conditions
- Wearing masks also reduces your exposure to pollutants and allergens and can keep the respiratory system clean
- Managing comorbidities requires self-discipline. Conditions like hypertension, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases cannot just up the chances of getting COVID-19 but they are fatal in themselves
- Diabetes, asthma, and hypertension need to be constantly monitored at home
Fortunately, healthcare aggregators such as PharmEasy, MedPlusMart, or Meddey.com etc can bring blood pressure monitors, glucometers, peak flow meters, and oximeters right to people’s doorstep.
These devices are instrumental in checking whether the diagnosed condition is within limits or if the person needs medical intervention right away.
Management also requires adhering to a strict medicine routine and frequent consultations with the physician. Once again online pharmacies have sprung to people’s aid. Considering how unsafe it is for people with comorbidities to step out of the house, it is now possible for them to book online consultations. And they can also order medicines online. With medicines, a close eye on the day-to-day state of health, exercise, and a careful diet, people can get a handle on their health condition
It took a pandemic for people to realize good health is invaluable. Hypertension, bad cholesterol, cardiovascular diseases, and high blood sugar are preventable. It is also possible to live a normal life if you have these diseases but manage them successfully. COVID-19 is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take our health into our own hands.