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COVID-19: Who's at higher risk of serious symptoms?

From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network on

Published in Health & Fitness

Over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, it's important to remind people who is more at risk of serious coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) symptoms, which can vary widely. Some people have no symptoms at all, while others become so sick that they eventually need mechanical assistance to breathe.

This article is written by Mayo Clinic Staff

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The risk of developing dangerous symptoms of COVID-19 may be increased in people who are older and also in people of any age who have other serious health problems — such as heart or lung conditions, weakened immune systems, obesity, or diabetes. This is similar to what is seen with other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza.

While each of these factors can increase the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms, people who have several of these other health problems are at even higher risk.

Older age

 

People of any age, even children, can catch COVID-19. But it most commonly affects middle-aged and older adults. The risk of developing dangerous symptoms increases with age, with those who are age 85 and older at the highest risk of serious symptoms. In the U.S., about 80% of deaths from the disease have been in people age 65 and older. Risks are even higher for older people when they have other health conditions.

Take all your medications as prescribed. Consider developing a care plan that includes information about your medical conditions, medications, health care provider's names and emergency contacts.

Nursing home residents are at high risk because they often have multiple health problems, combined with advanced age. And germs can spread very easily between people who live in close proximity to each other. If you live in a nursing home, follow the guidelines to prevent infection. Ask about protection measures for residents and visitor restrictions. Let staff know if you feel ill.

Older people are also more likely to have Alzheimer's disease, which can make it more difficult for them to remember the precautions recommended to prevent infection.

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