5 Major Risk Factors Of COVID-19 and Steps To Boost Your Immunity

Vijeta Tomar

Chief Yoga Instructor, Pinaki Yoga

It is always said, “Healing is a job of your body”. We all have that healing power inside us which we called as Immunity. Any impaired immunity health leads to many vulnerable diseases and the body’s dysfunction.

As the rise in the current situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thought of impending sickness has a lot of people on edge. Due to which people are suffering from anxiety, depression, and stress. As the rapid increase in numbers, we are following many recommendations of the WHO, CDC, and our local health officials with the responsibility of social distancing.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

So, now when there is the situation of no vaccine in this current pandemic, it is a better time for all of us to understand the value of our body’s healing power, to understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

India is the country that is well known to follow different natural cures strategies for any health breakdown. We used to follow Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Home remedies and also there was mentioned in Vedas, Puranas and many ancient texts of India about natural ways of healing.

But now that we are completely unconscious about our mental and physical body we are not aware of the damage going on inside our body due to our unhealthy lifestyle and improper ways of diet. In 1944 when Mahatma Gandhi inspired by Naturopathy, opened a sanatorium in Pune, he said: “India doesn’t need to import drugs from the west, she has a stock of the variety of medicines grown in villages but before that people should know the right way of living”.

If we look at the current situation, I think it’s the time to go back to old strategies for health maintenance and older styles of living.

Why Impaired Immunity is the Worst Scenario for COVID-19 Patient?

As you all know, Immunity is the self-defense mechanism of our highly intelligent system called Body. When it identifies any invader or pathogen inside our body it performs 2 important functions,

  • Prepare itself with an army of immune cells to fight against an enemy
  • Keep some dead samples of the enemy with itself, so that in future if that pathogen again enters the body, immunity won’t take much time to fight with that and get notified about the enemy at an early stage.

Now, your immunity is so strong & aggressive when it fights, that it needs a supportive battlefield, that is, your body. It needs a source of backup that is organs. But if your body is already suffering from any disorder then works of immunity get divided and also your organs dysfunction will not provide a supportive environment to the immunity, due to which body becomes weak and not able to deal with the behavior of its Immunity.

How vaccines work?

Vaccines are used as a wake-up call for this immunity so that your immunity wakes up at an early stage of the disease and provides a supportive environment to it. So that before that virus spreads too much in the body, your immunity starts its function early, do not get aggressive and cope up with the current situation of the body.

So, you see, vaccines are also not working anything new and out of nature. Vaccines are also putting efforts to wake up this natural healing power inside us.

Who all are under risk of coronavirus infection?

Till now 23,10,572 are the confirmed positive cases and 1,58,691 deaths around the world out of which 7,39,988 positive cases are alone from the United States. The largest number of diseases in the world.

A systematic review and meta-analysis has been done by Chinese researchers at Weifang Medical University with the aim to explore whether the presence of common comorbidities increases COVID-19 patients risk. A literature search was performed using the electronic platforms (PubMed, Cochrane Library, Embase, and other databases) to obtain relevant research studies published up to April 8, 2020. A total of 1558 patients with COVID-19 in 6 studies were enrolled in meta-analysis eventually

  • 6 studies were performed including hypertension, diabetes, and COPD.
  • 5 researched liver disease
  • 4 studies examined malignancy, renal disease, and cardiovascular disease.
  • 3 examined cerebrovascular disease.
  • 2 studies used to judge the severity of the disease, whether patients need ICU care or not.

All articles are of high quality because of NOS score no less than 6. (check the table below)

Bolin wang, Ruobao Li, Zhong Lu, Yan Huang Does comorbidity increase the risk of patients with COVID-19, evidence from  meta analysis, Aging 2020, vol 12, no. 7.
source: open-access article

Note: Odds ratio OR =1, means neutral; OR>1 means increased occurrence of an event, OR<1 means decreased occurrence of an event

Risk-Factor 1: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is the general term that describes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD is characterized by decreased airflow over time, as well as inflammation of the tissues that line the airway, which means damage to lungs, and loss of ability to breathe which has NO CURE. Many people who suffer from COPD also suffer from Asthma. The major cause of COPD in the developed world is Smoking. 20-30 percent of people who are active smokers have developed COPD.

Asthma is also a common & distressing condition characterized by recurrent attacks of spasm of the bronchial tubes results in wheezing, coughing, & a sense of suffocation.

The airways or bronchial tubes constrict & become plugged with excessive, thick mucus secretion provided by cells, lining the airways.

Out of many causes of Asthma, COPD or smoking is also one of them.

Meta-Analysis Result for COPD

The studies have shown that COPD (OR: 5.97) had a higher risk of progression of COVID-19. COPD has 497% increased odds which is a clear condition of an increased risk factor of the disease.

For the patient of COPD, there is the condition where lungs are not working properly, air secs are already damaged and no proper oxygen is reaching out to the organs. At this severe condition, immunity works have divided, when it finds any pathogen inside the body. Over that, if in any case immunity becomes aggressive and starts overreacting, lungs are not working properly and there is not enough strength in the organ to cope up with the sudden behavior of the immunity. This can cause shortness of breath and less oxygen supply to the organs and damage to the lungs.

For more information do check out my video regarding “Why Smokers and Asthmatics are At Major Risk Of Coronavirus?

Risk-factor 2: Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

Cardiovascular disease characterized by a group of diseases with any heart and blood vessel’s disorder. It includes coronary artery diseases such as myocardial infarction (known as a heart attack), heart stroke, heart failure, hypertensive heart disease and more.

Coronary artery disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease involve atherosclerosis. This may be caused by high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, lack of exercise, obesity, high blood cholesterol, poor diet, and excessive alcohol consumption, and many others.

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According to the WHO, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death around the world every year. Estimates, around 17.9 million people die each year from CVD, an estimated 31% of all deaths worldwide.

India has also risen in numbers of CVD, over the past 2 decades due to population growth, aging, and a stable age-adjusted CVD mortality rate. In 2016, there were an estimated 62.5 and 12.7 million years of life lost prematurely due to CVD in India and the United States, respectively. Research Paper published by By The Americal College Of Cardiology Foundation Published By Elsevier in Journal of American College Of Cardiology. in 2018.

Meta-Analysis Result for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

The studies have shown that cardiovascular diseases (OR: 2.93) have the second-highest risk of progression of COVID-19 after COPD. CVD has 193% increased odds which is again a resurgence to the COVID-19.

“If you get an extraordinary viral disease that will damage your lungs, you need a heart that can work with how your body responds to the virus”, said Dr. Maria Carolina, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.

The function of oxygenated blood supply around the body is performed by Heart and a pair of Lungs together. In case, if your lungs are in danger and get infected due to virus, your heart should be completely fine and should be in a healthy state. So, that again when your immunity works hard to fight against the virus, there should be a supportive environment of the body for the immunity.

If any COVID-19 patient is suffering from pre-existing Heart disease or CVD, then due to increased demands on the heart, there might be low oxygen levels and an increased tendency of blood clot formation that leads to the condition of heart attack and congestive heart failure.

Some COVID patients who died due to a heart attack were instead suffering from marked inflammation of heart muscle termed as myocarditis. The mortality rate of COVID-19 patients with Cardiovascular disease is quite high and there are no special methods for higher risk cardiac patients to prevent COVID-19.

Risk-factor 3: Hypertension

Cardiac heart disease and arteriosclerosis (blood vessel degeneration) are the leading cause of death in the world society today. As we already checked the data of WHO, every year, millions of people die from complications of cardiovascular degeneration,- including chronic heart failure, stroke & Hypertension.

2 main coronary arteries are responsible to supply blood to the heart muscles itself. If anyone of them becomes narrowed, the whole circulation system will fail. Sometimes these arteries become partially or totally blocked caused by blood clots, nervous spasm or hardening of vessel walls. The degeneration of blood vessel walls is termed as Arteriosclerosis. Which happened due to animal fat hard diet, cigarette smoking, lack of exercise and excessive mental stress and strain.

Hypertension is a serious and damaging disorder, accelerating blood vessel damage, leading to heart failure and posing a constant threat of sudden death by stroke (bursting of the blood vessel in the brain).

Meta-Analysis Result for Hypertension

The studies have shown that Hypertension (OR: 2.29) has come under the risk-factor of COVID. Hypertension has 129% increased odds which might clear Hypertension associated with the dramatically increased risk of aggravation in patients with COVID-19.

For those with Hypertension, “COVID will cause a systemic reaction in the body in a patient that is already at risk” said Dr. Maria Carolina, which means the virus is prone to attack multiple organs.

High blood pressure is the symbol which indicates that blood vessels all over the body are not working properly. Hypertension is a common issue as we grow older, so people with high blood pressure in the elderly group of the population are at greater risk of COVID.

Risk-Factor 4: Cerebrovascular Disease

Cerebrovascular disease also called Stroke, is the brain disorder in which an area of a brain is temporarily or permanently affected due to lack of blood supply and oxygen to the brain.

Blood vessel narrowing, clot formation, blood vessel blockage, lack of sufficient brain tissue may cause a stroke.

The heart elevates blood up to the brain through two sets of arteries, the carotid arteries, and the vertebral arteries. Because the brain depends upon them for its blood supply, it is very important that these arteries are healthy. Often, the cause of an ischemic stroke is carotid arteries blocked with plaque.

With the leading cause of heart attack and hypertension, Atherosclerosis is again the primary cause of Cerebrovascular disease. High cholesterol levels, together with inflammation in the arteries of the brain, cause cholesterol to build up as a thick, waxy plaque that can narrow or block blood flow in the arteries.

This plaque is responsible to completely obstruct blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke.

Meta-Analysis Result for Cerebrovascular Disease/Stroke

The studies have shown that cerebrovascular (OR: 3.89) has come under the risk-factor of COVID. Cerebrovascular disease with 289% increased odds which is a jeopardized condition with COVID-19.

If any individual with cerebrovascular disease comes into contact with COVID-19, then it might be difficult for arteries to supply enough oxygen to the brain due to the infected lungs and weak arteries, which causes a cerebrovascular attack, such as, stroke.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Of the more than 700,000 people affected every year. “Whatever the underlying condition and cause are, it is crucial that proper blood flow and oxygen be restored to the brain as soon as possible. Without oxygen and important nutrients, the affected brain cells are either damaged or die within a few minutes. Once brain cells die, they cannot regenerate, and devastating damage may occur, sometimes resulting in physical, cognitive and mental disabilities” – stated by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons

Risk-factor 5: Diabetes

Diabetes is the most common health disorder in today’s society and treating the patient with the condition of COVID and diabetes together is a challenging task for the doctors nowadays.

Diabetic patients with COVID are at risk of infections and bacterial pneumonia. Due to their impaired immune system, they are prone to any infection easily and also they are not ready to deal with the condition of cytokine flood (aggressive immune response against the virus). Poor glycemic control also damages the immune response of the body. Many people with type 2 diabetes are obese, where obese is another risk factor for COVID-19. During H1N1 epidemic of swine flu in 2009, it was illustrated by the experts that disease was more severe in the case of obese patients.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Meta-Analysis Result for Diabetes

The studies have shown that diabetes(OR: 2.47) has come under the risk-factor of COVID. Diabetes with 147% increased odds which is enough to put the condition under a risk-factor for COVID-19.

Poor glycemic control is a serious risk factor for any infection and leads to a worse situation. Infections cause loss of glycemic control and due to current disease, it’s difficult for the treatment of Hyperglycemia with respiratory obstacles. Patients of COVID-19 with pre-existing diabetic condition have been under special observations and serious treatment due to increased risk of mortality.

The meta-analysis identified hypertension, diabetes, COPD, cardiovascular disease, and cerebrovascular disease as significant risk factors for COVID-19 patients. It has revealed no correlation between increased risk of COVID-19 and liver disease, malignancy, or renal (kidney) disease.

How does ACE-2 receptor a special risk factor for COVID-19?

It has been found that an enzyme ACE2 protein is the entry receptor of SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19. Coronavirus works on the concept of the Key-Lock pattern. It enters the body through target cells through enzyme ACE2 protein which is expressed in epithelial cells in the lungs, blood vessels and intestine. The increased expression of ACE-2 receptors is a defense mechanism of the body in response to damaged air sacs, which was found more in smokers and asthma patients than found in general people who have a healthy pulmonary system.

Usually, people have a limited number of ACE2 but in some cases, the patient has been treated with angiotensin-converting enzyme(ACE) inhibitors such as Hypertension and Diabetes.

Comorbidity with COVID-19 forced the health professionals to reduce the number of ACE2 receptors to restrict the entry of the virus further in the cells of the body, augment the further complications to deal with.

Methods to improve your immunity and Strengthen your body organs

It’s never too late to start with the healthy way of living. Even a strong thought to become healthy makes a lot of difference at a mental level which is a stable factor for a healthy physical body.

Here are few tips to boost your immunity and strengthen your body from inside,

  • Quit smoking: Cigarette smoking is responsible for the impaired immune system and leaves smokers with less active immunity and prone to any disease easily. It releases many harmful chemicals in the body which impact your nervous system, sexual health, sperm count, along with your respiration process. It’s never too late to quit smoking and starts with a healthy lifestyle. It has been found that people who used to smoke earlier have the same number of ACE2 receptors, as found in the people who never smoke. Smoking is injurious to lungs, overall health and life.
  • Healthy Diet: A large number of the population is dependent upon the packaged food due to lack of time, which contains enough preservatives to fill your body from toxins and reduce your immunity. Most of our health disorders like diabetes, CVD are lifestyle issues and occur due to a highly processed and oily. Enhance your diet with healthy natural food including fresh fruits and vegetables. Make sure about your food timings, try to eat food on time. Stop overeating and keep your body hydrated. A balanced Yogic Diet is also helpful in severe disorders.
  • Exercise: Follow a yoga or strength training program. According to the study, people who follow any fitness program are more immune then people who follow a sedentary lifestyle. A 60 minutes fitness routine per day is enough for a healthy body and boosts your immunity.  
  • Cleaning process: Follow some shatkarma programs of Yoga like Jal Niti, Kapalbhati, Trataka. Perform them under some guidance, all these are good to purify the body from inside and to remove toxins from the body. Also perform some asanas and bandhas like Surya namaskar, Chandra namaskar, vajrasana and bandhas like, uddiyana bandha, jalandhar bandha, moola bandha, and more. Perform all these under the guidance of any Yoga Professional, there are special restrictions and different levels of intensity of the program in case of any disease and     health disorder. These shatkarma techniques, asanas & bandhas enhance your immunity power and balance all systems of the body.
  • Positive thoughts & Meditation: All of the risk-factors of COVID-19, comes under psychosomatic disorder, the problem at the mental plane reflects at the physical level. It has been found in the studies that depression and stress are 2 of the major causes of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, cerebrovascular disorder & COPD. Positive thoughts play an important role to reduce the level of stress and depression. You should be positive not only for yourself but also for others. Emotions of jealousy, anger, comparisons, suppressed emotions, stress, behavior of mind to overthink and self-chattering of mind create some inverting conditions for the body which cause various disorders.
Image by Irina L from Pixabay

Any meditation program will be helpful to reduce the frequency of brain waves, improve concentration skills, improve healing power and let you stay present.

Health is an auto generated process by a great source of power inside us. We have our healing power within ourselves. It’s already there and comes out when we stop covering it with an artificial way of living.

Thank You!

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