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You're More Likely To Die From COVID With These Health Issues

Check if you are safe from the virus.

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, many things remain in flux or unknown. Like: Are we closer to the end than the beginning? Is Omicron really less severe than previous variants? But some things are scientifically certain. For example, these conditions make you much more likely to die from COVID if you contract it. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


A Sleep Disorder

young woman holding face in bed in the dark dealing with insomnia or poor sleep

According to a study published last month in JAMA Network Open, having a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea increases your risk of severe COVID-19—including hospitalization and death—by 31 percent. Experts don't know why, but the researchers behind the study speculate that because sleep apnea reduces oxygen to the lungs (a condition called hypoxia), it may cause inflammation and other damage that  


Excess Body Fat

feet on scale

Since the early days of the pandemic, doctors have observed that obesity is a major risk factor for severe COVID illness and death. A recent study shed a potential light on why: COVID seems to infect fat cells, along with certain immune cells within body fat. That may create an immune overreaction (known as a cytokine storm) that damages organs and can be fatal. The more body fat you have, the higher the odds of this complication.

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"People with diabetes are more likely to have severe symptoms and complications when infected with any virus, and this is true for coronavirus too," Gwen Murphy, Ph.D., MPH, executive director of epidemiology for LetsGetChecked, told ETNT Health. She noted the risk of severe illness is lower if diabetes is well controlled.

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Female doctor is checking pregnant woman with stethoscope

"Pregnant women are at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, and COVID-19 is associated with an increased risk for adverse perinatal outcomes" such as stillbirth, say researchers behind a study published last month in MMWR. The Omicron variant seems to pose even greater risks for pregnant women, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. "We were worried from day one that [COVID] might be worse in pregnant women than other people because other respiratory viruses have been, like SARS and flu," said Pat O'Brien, vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Experts urge all expectant mothers to get vaccinated ASAP.

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Metabolic Syndrome

Overweight woman discussing test results with doctor in hospital.

A new study involving more than 29,000 people hospitalized with COVID found that having metabolic syndrome brought a higher risk of severe breathing problems and death. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, excess belly fat, high blood sugar and high cholesterol. Considered a chronic inflammatory state, it has also been linked to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. The researchers found that the risk of severe COVID or death rose with each additional condition a patient had.

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Not Being Fully Vaccinated

Our batting average ranked from last month but that's the reality

Earlier this month, the Arizona Department of Health found that state residents who weren't fully vaccinated against COVID-19 were nearly four times more likely to test positive and 15 times more likely to die than vaccinated people, state officials said. "Vaccines continue to be a safe and effective tool for preventing COVID-19 cases and deaths," an assistant director of the state health department told KTAR News.

That data is similar to nationwide statistics published by the CDC, which found that unvaccinated people were 5.8 times more likely to develop COVID and 14 times more likely to die than people who'd been fully vaccinated.

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Woman in a restaurant with face protection mask kn95.

Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
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