Why are some people at greater risk from coronavirus?

People with diabetes or heart disease are known to be more at risk from coronavirus, which is starting to spread rapidly in the UK and internationally. That is a concern for the 7.4 million Britons who have some form of cardiac or circulatory disease, which includes 4.8 million people with diabetes.

The common risk factor is the lungs, because with both types of patients it is that organ which is likely to be damaged by the coronavirus. Their poor underlying health means they are in greater danger of suffering serious medical harm from Covid-19 than people with good health.

Jon Cohen, emeritus professor of infectious diseases at Brighton and Sussex medical school, said: “The coronavirus causes an infection of the lungs – a pneumonia. When the lungs get an infection – any kind of pneumonia, not just coronavirus – the airspaces fill up with fluid caused by the inflammation. So the body has to work harder to get oxygen into the blood.

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