Not all underlying conditions make COVID-19 more dangerous, Duke doctor says


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – There are many factors and underlying conditions that can increase a person’s risk of coronavirus making them very sick. They include age and weight.

Those who keep underlying conditions, such as high blood pressure, in check may not be at an increased risk.

“If you do a good job of keeping on top of where you pressure is, and with diabetes, I would say the same,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe. He is part of the Duke University coronavirus task force. “If you do a good job of keeping your blood sugar under control, this will not pose you any greater problem than anyone else.”

Wolfe is an immunologist who specializes in HIV. He said the same applies to people living with HIV who have an undetectable viral load, and more importantly a normal T-cell count.

“I’ve seen no signals to suggest those individuals are at higher risk. Now, they will be at the same risk as their age equivalent HIV negative compatriots,” Wolfe said.

A number of chronic illnesses would fall into the same category.

“If you control your chronic illness, whatever that is, and you and your physician are happy about the way they are maintained, I would suspect your risk is pretty much the same as the general population,” Wolfe said.

That isn’t the case with all underlying conditions like heard and lung diseases, including COPD.

“There are some conditions that you can maintain them. But, your level of function is poor. So, for example, folks with bad emphysema or COPD, they may contain their symptoms,” Wolfe said. “They may not have as many flare-ups as they once did. But, their underlying lung reserve is still not as strong as it was when they were younger. Those folks need to be careful.”

Careful and vigilant. It’s important to remember to reach out to your personal physician who knows your health history before assuming anything.

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