The risk groups for the lung disease Covid-19 mainly include older people. But more and more younger infected people develop a difficult course. A study from the USA has investigated why this could be the case.
Coronavirus is more likely to cause severe disease in the elderly than in other age groups. However, the proportion of younger people is not as low as expected at the start of the pandemic. They too can get serious from Covid-19.
Current data from the USA show that the proportion of young corona patients who had to be treated in hospitals has increased significantly since April. According to the Disease Protection Agency CDC, there were 8.7 hospitalizations per 100,000 inhabitants from the age group of 18 to 29 years by mid-April. Among people over 65, 128.3 out of 100,000. By the end of June, however, the proportion of young adults had tripled, while that of older people had increased by a factor of 1.4. The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reports.
Every third young adult could be at risk
Researchers at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) have investigated possible causes for this increase. Using representative data from more than 8,400 subjects, they found that one in three young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 could be susceptible to severe Covid 19 course.
The reason for this are certain risk factors that – regardless of age – would favor difficult courses. The results of the study were published in the journal Journal of Adolescent Health.
Risk factors for young people
Typical risk factors that may also apply to young people include smoking and chronic diseases such as:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Liver disease
- Autoimmune diseases
In the study, the subjects were considered at risk if they showed at least one risk factor. Of the 8,400 young adults, 25 percent said they had smoked tobacco, e-cigarettes or cigars in the past 30 days. According to the scientists, the biggest risk factor for young people is their cigarette consumption.
In contrast, only about 16 percent of the subjects were affected by chronic diseases. Asthma was the most common disease with about nine percent. However, the researchers emphasize that even young patients without previous illnesses can be at risk of a severe Covid 19 case. Because genetic factors also play a role in infectious diseases.
Smokers are more susceptible to serious illnesses
“Smoke can have a significant impact on young adults, where rates of most chronic diseases are generally low, “the UCSF press release said. Smoking can also have a major impact on the course of Covid-19.
According to current research, the corona virus first attacks the lungs. Patients who already have lung damage from smoking could develop severe respiratory problems as a result of Covid-19 – sometimes even fatal.
“The risk of being medically at risk is halved if smokers, including e-cigarette users, are removed from the sample,” the researchers write. Only about one in six young adults who did not smoke were susceptible to severe Covid 19 disease, the study authors said. Any effort to stop it is worth it.
Smokers: Every year over six million people worldwide die from the effects of smoking. (Source: Serhii Sobolevskyi / Getty Images)
WHO warns of nicotine addiction
A few days before the study was published, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of the link between smoking and severe corona cases. Those who want to quit smoking will find the perfect incentive to quit in the corona pandemic, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on July 10 at a press conference. It should be proven that smokers, unlike non-smokers, are more prone to smoking Covid-19 to get sick.
In Germany, the proportion of young people and young adults who smoke has been declining for years. This is confirmed by data from the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA). But this positive trend is also accompanied by a negative development: Because the use of hookahs and e-cigarettes among adolescents and young adults continues to increase.