Conscientious chronic medical treatment is important

By eating healthy, getting regular exercise, managing your stress, adhering to your medical treatment plan, and following all necessary preventative measures can you reduce the risk of becoming severely ill from Covid-19, and from being admitted for hospitalisation.

Available Covid-19 patient data from the Western Cape Government Health (WCGH) shows that people with hypertension, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease are among the most common comorbidities associated with serious Covid-19 cases.

Comorbidity

Percent of deaths (as at 25 May 2020)

Hypertension

58%

Diabetes

56%

Chronic kidney disease

17%

HIV

16%

Asthma / chronic respiratory disease

15%

Cardiac disease

11%

Obesity

13%

Previous / current TB

13%

Cancer

2%

Other

16%

*the data above illustrates the percentage of patients with a specified comorbidity.

Many of those with diabetes had other comorbidities and the prevalence of diabetes is higher in older people who are at higher risk of death on account of their age. This doesn’t mean that diabetes was the only “reason” that these diabetics died from Covid-19, they may also be older patients and have other comorbidities as well.

As at 25 May 2020, among the 14 242 Covid-19 cases in adults (20 year and older), a total of 1320 (9,3%) had diabetes. Among those who died in public and private health facilities with the available measurement of blood glucose control, 68% had poorly controlled diabetes.

In the public health sector alone, among the 8 702 Covid-19 cases in adults (20 years and older), 1 011 (11,6%) had previously been diagnosed with or treated for diabetes.

People with diabetes do face a higher chance of experiencing serious complications from Covid-19, but their risk of getting very sick from Covid-19 is likely to be lower if their diabetes is well-managed.  In general, people with diabetes are more likely to experience severe symptoms and complications when infected with a virus. As diabetic individuals are at increased risk of severe Covid-19 disease, ongoing social/physical distancing is recommended where possible, even if the lockdown level decreases. Being overweight/obese is also a risk factor for severe Covid disease. Weight loss, if possible, is therefore recommended.

You can also stay safe by adopting a number of prevention strategies.

  • Keep hydrated and monitor your blood glucose, blood pressure and temperature.
  • Take your medication correctly as prescribed by your health worker. Make sure that you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before you touch your meds.  
  • If you are a stable patient, then you will get multi-month supplies from the health facility. Do not stop taking your medication unless the health worker tells you to. And never share your medication with anybody.
  • Try to make time to do physical activities for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Keep your blood sugar levels as normal as possible (<5.5mmol) by eating healthy food. Have small regular meals.
  • Find out what your healthy weight should be.

We can all help save lives by changing our behaviour: 

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Always wear a clean cloth mask in public.
  • Always follow the golden rules of good hygiene (a mask alone is not enough).
  • Keep your distance from people at all times.
  • Avoid gatherings of people.
  • If you are sick, stay home and call the hotline. If you are having difficulty breathing, seek urgent healthcare.

The Western Cape Government Health encourages residents to exercise regularly and to follow a healthy diet. Visit our Western Cape on Wellness website https://www.westerncape.gov.za/westerncape-on-wellness/ for assistance in making healthy lifestyle choices.