People at increased risk for severe illness
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Everyone is at risk for getting COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus. Some people are more likely than others to become severely ill, which means that they may require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they may even die. We learn more about COVID-19 every day, and as more information becomes available, CDC will continue to update and share information about risk for severe illness.

People at increased risk for severe illness

Older Adults

Among adults, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk. Severe illness means that the person with COVID-19 may require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they may even die.

Risk for Severe Illness Increases with Age

As you get older, your risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases. For example, people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s. Similarly, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older.

There are also other factors that can increase your risk for severe illness, such as having underlying medical conditions. By understanding the factors that put you at an increased risk, you can make decisions about what kind of precautions to take in your daily life.

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As you get older, your risk of being hospitalized for COVID-19 increases. Everyone, especially older adults and others at increased risk of severe illness, should take steps to protect themselves from getting COVID-19.

People with Certain Medical Conditions

Summary of Recent Changes

Revisions were made on July 17, 2020 to reflect recent data supporting increased risk of severe COVID-19 among individuals with cancer. The listed underlying medical conditions in children were also revised to indicate that these conditions might increase risk to better reflect the quality of available data currently. We are learning more about COVID-19 every day, and as new information becomes available, CDC will update the information below. ​

People of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

COVID-19 is a new disease. Currently there are limited data and information about the impact of underlying medical conditions and whether they increase the risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Based on what we know at this time, people with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Smoking
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

Children who have medical complexity, who have neurologic, genetic, metabolic conditions, or who have congenital heart disease might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to other children.

The list of underlying conditions is meant to inform clinicians to help them provide the best care possible for patients, and to inform individuals as to what their level of risk may be so they can make individual decisions about illness prevention. We are learning more about COVID-19 every day. This list is a living document that may be updated at any time, subject to potentially rapid change as the science evolves.

Reduce your risk of getting COVID-19

It is especially important for people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and those who live with them, to protect themselves from getting COVID-19.

The best way to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is to:

  • Limit your interactions with other people as much as possible.
  • Take precautions to prevent getting COVID-19 when you do interact with others.

If you start feeling sick and think you may have COVID-19, get in touch with your healthcare provider within 24 hours.

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