COVID-19: Prevent many corona-relevant pre-existing diseases through prevention

COVID-19: Prevent many corona-relevant pre-existing diseases through prevention

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COVID-19: Inadequate prevention of corona-relevant pre-existing conditions

It is known that COVID-19 diseases can be difficult, especially in older people and in patients with certain previous diseases. According to experts, many corona-relevant pre-existing diseases could have been prevented by effective prevention.

In view of the large number of people at increased risk of a serious COVID-19 course in Germany, the German Alliance for Noncommunicable Diseases (DANK) criticizes the poor prevention of these risk factors in Germany in a recent release.

Certain pre-existing conditions increase the risk of severe COVID-19 course

It was only recently reported from Hamburg that previous illnesses were found in all autopsied corona deaths.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), diseases that increase the risk of a severe course of COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, diseases of the respiratory system, the liver, the Kidney, cancer or factors such as obesity and smoking.

Many of these corona-relevant pre-existing conditions could have been prevented by effective prevention.

The chances of many of those affected could have been significantly improved

"Diabetes, heart disease and tobacco addiction are all pre-existing diseases that can be reduced through political measures," says Professor Dr. med. Monika Kellerer, President of the German Diabetes Society (DDG).

"But the federal government has ignored the recommendations of the WHO for years. This is another reason why more people in Germany are now at risk of developing and dying from Covid-19. ”

The science alliance DANK recognizes the great efforts of politics to bring the pandemic under control now.

"But earlier effective measures, for example for a healthy diet and to curb obesity and smoking, would have significantly improved the chances of many of those affected," explains Professor Dr. Martina de Zwaan, board member of the German Obesity Society (DAG).

Inadequate implementation of WHO recommendation in Germany

As the experts explain, previous illnesses are the main risk factor in addition to the age to die from COVID-19. The study here mentions in particular obesity, heart diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes, or the consequential diseases caused by them.

There are also increasing indications that smokers are also at greater risk.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had given its member countries specific recommendations on how these risk factors could be reduced through political measures. For example, 60 to 80 percent of diabetes cases could be avoided.

However, according to the DANK, Germany has so far refused many such preventive measures such as a tax on sweetened products or advertising regulations for fatteners.

Germany is lagging behind

"Germany is lagging behind in many areas of prevention," says Kellerer. "It's getting revenge now. We therefore urgently need a discussion about how we can permanently reduce the risks for these pre-existing conditions. ”

Because even without the virus pandemic, these diseases pose a greatly increased risk of premature death. Every fifth death in Germany is associated with diabetes. And obesity (depending on the severity) shortens life by up to ten years.

As a result of smoking, around 121,000 people die each year. "Many of these premature deaths could be prevented by effective tobacco control measures, such as the long overdue ban on tobacco advertising or repeated, noticeable increases in tobacco taxes," explains Dr. Ute Mons, head of the Cancer Prevention Unit at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ).

Do not forget about other serious illnesses

Against this background, THANKS also worries about the possible negative effects of corona restrictions on health.

"Unemployment and poverty, for example, are strong risk factors for many illnesses and also for premature death," explains de Zwaan. "We also have to consider these long-term health consequences."

The fight against COVID-19 is important - but other, equally serious and widespread diseases must not be forgotten.

"Measures to curb obesity, diabetes, lack of exercise and smoking save many lives," said Kellerer, "and they are far less drastic." (Ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Deutsche Allianz Non-Communicable Diseases (THANKS): Many corona-relevant pre-existing diseases could have been prevented by effective prevention, (accessed: May 13, 2020), Deutsche Allianz Non-Communicable Diseases (THANKS)
  • Robert Koch Institute (RKI): Information and support for people at higher risk for a severe COVID-19 disease course, (access: May 13, 2020), Robert Koch Institute (RKI)

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