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Clinical characteristics and risk factors of severe COVID-19

What is the physiology behind comorbidities that put patients at higher risk of severe COVID-19?

With the world impacted by COVID-19 throughout 2020 and 2021, healthcare has had to adapt. In some countries, a level of normal healthcare and physiotherapy treatment has resumed. With the aid of additional protections such as vaccines, protective equipment and social distancing guidelines, many physiotherapists have resumed treating clients, inspite of COVID-19 being a present threat to both parties.

The number and the severity of COVID-19 cases, but also hospitalisation and mortality rates are still continuously tracked in many countries. Often, clinicians need to consider a patient’s comorbidities, age, and associated risk factors, as some populations are deemed at high risk for developing severe COVID-19.

This paper aims to review the risk factors for developing severe COVID-19, since this is something that needs to be considered by clinicians working with the general public.

While many factors pose a risk for the development of severe COVID-19, this paper highlights some common comorbidities that many clinicians see in their patient populations: diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. While comorbidities have been well-documented for increasing the risk of a more severe development of COVID-19, this paper also reviewed the physiological backgrounds of this phenomenon.

As physiotherapists and clinicians, it is important to recognise factors that may otherwise be regarded as common findings in a patient’s medical history, and how they could put them at  higher risk of developing severe COVID-19.

> From: Hu et al., Gerontology (2021) (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to Karger. Click here for the online summary.

Want to read deeper into the physiological background? Have a look at this free paper on the ACE1/ ACE2 imbalance and its role in COVID-19.

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