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  • Writer's pictureCait Mizzi

Is Your Immunity Compromised? Pre-existing Conditions: Why They Matter

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

It is important to acknowledge that the deaths from COVID-19 (in all regions) were highest among people who had heart disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease, or who were immunocompromised or immunosuppressed for reasons such as cancer or organ transplant. Pre-pandemic health plays a critical role in both the ability to recover from and survive infection. In Italy, only 2% of deaths occurred in people with no pre-existing conditions (that they knew of), while 50% of deaths occurred in people with 3 or more underlying issues.

How exactly do underlying or pre-existing conditions affect your ability to fend off or survive infection? Heart Disease – Reduced blood flow, due to narrowed coronary blood vessels, impairs the removal of toxins and restricts the circulation of important immune-supportive nutrients. Diabetes & Insulin Resistance – Chronically high blood sugar levels decrease the function of white blood cells that help to fight off pathogens. While any infection in a diabetic individual significantly compromises the ability to control blood sugar, creating a double-edged sword. Respiratory Conditions – COPD and asthma create a perpetual state of inflammation in the lungs, reducing overall lung capacity and oxygen uptake. In many cases, these are lifestyle diseases. In other words, they’re preventable.

Why does this matter? Let's look at the numbers below, which pre-date the global pandemic of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, and see what percentage of our population are at greater risk of death during this time.

  • 3 million Canadians are living with Type 2 diabetes (that’s 1 in 10)

  • 6 million Canadians are prediabetic

  • 2.4 million Canadians are living with heart disease

  • 3 million Canadians are living with COPD

  • 3 million Canadians are living with asthma

That’s a combined total of 17.4 million people, or 46% of the country’s population.

No more relying on band-aid solutions and “magic” pills that cover up poor lifestyle choices. Instead, we need to focus on education, we need to encourage comprehensive knowledge of what sustainable choices exist to keep the development of underlying conditions at bay. This is how we fight disease, how we lower healthcare costs, how we protect ourselves and our loved ones. Don’t wait for another pandemic to remind you of how important your health is, or how fragile it can be.

Take steps now to correct existing issues, focus on prevention and create sustainable, robust and vibrant health - for yourself, and for the collective.

Sources: Health Canada

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