Doctors have expressed concern over the trend, pointing out that Covid patients with such ailments have a higher chance of turning fatal than in normal cases. They said that since NCDs and Covid-19 share a similar pathology, the virus tends to infect bodies with such ailments more easily than in others. This makes patients suffering from hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases 10 times more susceptible to Covid-19 and their mortality rate is also several times higher.
“NCDs and Covid-19 have common pathologies. People who have hypertension, diabetes and cardiac ailments are 10 times more predisposed to getting infected. While healthy persons have only a 1.2% chance of turning fatal, those with NCDs have a 6-8% chance. They have poor immunological responses and inflammatory cytokines in their bodies. Cytokines are responsible for lung infection, heart attacks and acute respiratory distress syndrome. The virus only aggravates them,” said Dr Amit Bhushan Sharma, associate director and head of the cardiology unit at Paras Hospital, Gurugram.
Dr Sharma warned that when patients with NCDs turn critical and need to be put on ventilator support, their chance of fatality increases to 80%. He advised that with rapid changes in lifestyle, people should at least keep their sugar levels in check and control their weight.
Dr Udgeath Dhir of Fortis Memorial Research Institute also said that a weak immune system leads to Covid-19 in most cases.
“Non-communicable diseases are inflammatory. Like in hypertension, there is strain on the heart. This virus also causes inflammation in the body. Both combine and pose a higher risk in patients with NCDs. Certain cells are killed and immunity reduces further. More than 80% of Covid patients we have been getting here are suffering from NCDs,” he added.
Experts said the risk of fatality increased manifold in Covid patients with NCDs. For instance, if the rate is just 1.2% in patients with no history of NCDs, it is 8% in those having diabetes and 7.5% in those with lung ailments. It is 6.5% in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases and 3% in case of hypertension.
Dr Dhruv Chaudhary, the nodal officer for Covid-19 response in Haryana and the head of the department of pulmonary and critical care at PGIMS-Rohtak, said, “According to data, two-thirds of Covid deaths in Gurugram are related to diabetes and obesity. Most people who require ventilators in such cases have been found to be obese. We have also observed that 90% of patients put on ventilator support are obese.”
Doctors suggested that people suffering from obesity should start treatment at the earliest.