Most COVID-Related Hospitalizations are Linked to Four Conditions

Janet Tiberian Author
By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
April 16, 2021
Conditions Linked to COVID Hospitalizations

Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists have warned us that chronic conditions raise the risk for serious COVID-19 complications. Scientists have now pinpointed the four cardiometabolic disorders that have accounted for two-thirds of COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Cardiometabolic conditions combine elements of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders. Cardiovascular disease involves damaged blood vessels and can lead to angina, heart attack or stroke. Meanwhile, metabolic disorders occur when the metabolism process fails, causing the body to function with levels of essential substances that are either too high or too low to maintain health. Examples include type 2 diabetes, obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. 

Researchers applied a mathematical simulation to the data to estimate the number and proportion of COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout the country. When the data was combined for all four conditions, the model suggested that 64 percent of hospitalizations could have been avoided if less people suffered these cardiometabolic conditions and that lowering the national prevalence of each conditions by just 10 percent, when combined, could prevent about 11 percent of all COVID-19 hospitalizations. To get an idea of the type of results the model generated, let’s look at data from November 2020. About 906,849 American adults were hospitalized with COVID-19 and here’s a breakdown of cases attributable to a cardiometabolic disorder. Four cardiometabolic disorders that have accounted for two-thirds of COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Cardiometabolic conditions combine elements of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders. Cardiovascular disease involves damaged blood vessels and can lead to angina, heart attack or stroke. Meanwhile, metabolic disorders occur when the metabolism process fails, causing the body to function with levels of essential substances that are either too high or too low to maintain health. Examples include type 2 diabetes, obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. 

Researchers from Tufts University (comparing multiple databases – see inset) were able to estimate the numbers and proportions of COVID-19 hospitalizations attributable to four major cardiometabolic disorders: obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart failure. These specific conditions were chosen because published research suggested each condition was an independent predictor of severe outcomes, including hospitalization, among people infected with COVID-19. 

Researchers applied a mathematical simulation to the data to estimate the number and proportion of COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout the country. When the data was combined for all four conditions, the model suggested that 64 percent of hospitalizations could have been avoided if less people suffered these cardiometabolic conditions and that lowering the national prevalence of each conditions by just 10 percent, when combined, could prevent about 11 percent of all COVID-19 hospitalizations.

To get an idea of the type of results the model generated, let’s look at data from November 2020. About 906,849 American adults were hospitalized with COVID-19 and here’s a breakdown of cases attributable to a cardiometabolic disorder.

  • 30% (274,322 cases) had obesity
  • 26% (237,738 cases) had hypertension
  • 21% (185,678 cases) had type 2 diabetes
  • 12% (106,139 cases) had heart failure

“Don’t misunderstand the results from this study,” says Bernard Kaminetsky, MD, medical director, MDVIP. “Having one of these conditions doesn’t raise your risk for contracting a COVID-19 infection – we’re all equally susceptible. However, it raises the risk for severe complications and hospitalizations.”

If you are trying to prevent or control obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or heart failure, work closely with your doctor. Don’t have a doctor, consider partnering with MDVIP.  Find an MDVIP affiliate near you and begin your partnership in health »


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About the Author
Janet Tiberian Author
Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES

Janet Tiberian is MDVIP's health educator. She has more than 25 years experience in chronic disease prevention and therapeutic exercise.

View All Posts By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
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