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These People are at Risk of COVID, Like Colin Powell

The Former United States Secretary of State died of complications from COVID-19 and had cancer, say reports.

Colin Powell has died of complications from COVID-19 while battling multiple myeloma, according to a source, a cancer of plasma cells. As soon as the first cases of COVID-19 were identified in Wuhan, China in late 2019, it became clear that the virus varied in severity from one person to another. In the months between then and now, health experts have identified a number of health conditions that make an individual more susceptible to the virus, meaning they are more likely to suffer a severe infection, become hospitalized, admitted into an ICU, or even die. (This can happen even after a breakthrough case; Powell was vaccinated.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a list of underlying medical conditions that put you at an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. Read on to see if you have any, like Powell did, and to ensure your health and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.


You Have Cancer

woman in bed suffering from cancer

People who are currently battling cancer are more prone to a serious coronavirus infection, predominantly due to the fact that they are immunocompromised. Says the CDC: "Having cancer can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Treatments for many types of cancer can weaken your body's ability to fight off disease. At this time, based on available studies, having a history of cancer may increase your risk."


You Have Chronic Kidney Disease

At doctors appointment physician shows to patient shape of kidney with focus on hand with organ. Scene explaining patient causes and localization of diseases of kidney, stones, adrenal, urinary system - Image

COVID-19 is known to damage the kidneys, so those with a history of kidney disease are at a heightened risk of severe infection. "Having chronic kidney disease of any stage increases your risk for severe illness from COVID-19," explains the CDC.

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You Have COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Patients lying on hospital bed with mask, looking at lung x-ray film during doctor reading result and advice a treatment

As COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, those with lung-related conditions are compromised. "Having COPD (including emphysema and chronic bronchitis) is known to increase your risk of severe illness from COVID-19," explains the CDC. "Other chronic lung diseases, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and cystic fibrosis, may increase your risk of severe illness from COVID-19."

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You Have a Heart Condition

Portrait Of A Mature Man Having Heart Attack

COVID-19 can wreak major damage on the heart, so those who are already battling issues in the organ are at a greater risk of severe infection. "Having any of the following serious heart conditions increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19," warns the CDC, listing heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, and pulmonary hypertension. "Having other cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease, such as hypertension (high blood pressure) or stroke, may increase your risk of severe illness from COVID-19," they add. 

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You Had a Solid Organ Transplant

Female nurse examining all the parameters in operating room

A strong immune system is needed to fight off infections — including COVID-19. "Many conditions and treatments can cause a person to be immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system. These include: having a solid organ transplant, blood, or bone marrow transplant; immune deficiencies; HIV with a low CD4 cell count or not on HIV treatment; prolonged use of corticosteroids; or use of other immune weakening medicines," says the CDC. "Having a weakened immune system may increase your risk of severe illness from COVID-19."

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You Are Obese

Doctor measuring obese man waist body fat.

Obesity, "defined as a body mass index (BMI) between 30 kg/m2 and <40 kg/m2 increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19," the CDC recently added to their guidance. Previously, only "severe obesity" was considered a definite increased risk factor. 

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You Are Severely Obese

obese woman

Severe obesity — defined as a BMI of 40 kg/m2 or above — increases your risk of COVID-19. According to an August meta-analysis of data involving 399,000 COVID-19 patients published in Obesity Reviews, people with obesity who contracted the virus were 113% more likely to end up in the hospital than those of a healthy weight, 74% more likely to be admitted to an ICU, and 48% more likely to die.

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You Have Sickle Cell Disease

sickle cell disease

"Having sickle cell disease (SCD) increases your risk for severe illness from COVID-19," explains the CDC. They added that other hemoglobin disorders — including thalassemia— may also increase your risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

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You're Smoking

Closeup of a pile of cigarettes

This week the CDC added smokers to the list of those at a higher COVID-19 risk. "Being a current or former cigarette smoker increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19," they explain. 

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You Have Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus


While type 2 diabetes has also been linked to a higher risk of COVID, even those with type 1 may be prone as well. "Having type 2 diabetes increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19," they say. "Based on what we know at this time, having type 1 or gestational diabetes may increase your risk of severe illness from COVID-19." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah