Misc 07/12/2020

Smokers, obese and working-age people are more likely to end up in hospital because of covid-19

Almost two million Catalans do not recognise themselves as a vulnerable group despite being so

3 min
Diversos sanitaris fent una traqueotomia a una pacient a l'UCI de l'Hospital de la Vall d'Hebron.

BarcelonaCovid-19 does a lot of damage to the over-65s, but before this age group it is not harmless: one in five people at greatest risk of complications if they are infected are between 45 and 65. The chances are even higher if they smoke or drink alcohol, suffer from chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes or high cholesterol, or complex pathologies such as some type of cancer. Some of these people also have a high degree of social interaction, since they are of working age and work in jobs that require them to turn up physically. Thus, the Health Department considers almost two million Catalans to be at risk, 1.8 million to be precise, and warns that these people either do not know it or do not recognise themselves as vulnerable. But the consequences if they become infected with coronavirus can be very serious: they could end up in hospital with a critical prognosis.

"Everyone is very clear that the people most at risk are the elderly and those who suffer a serious illness, but we have identified a specific group with more common and frequent pathologies that also have a very high risk of suffering complications in the event of infection and who are perhaps not as aware of it," warns the director of the Àrea Assistencial del Servei Català de la Salut (CatSalut), Xènia Acebes. The age groups that currently register the most infections are those between 30 and 59 years old, and for this reason, the Health Department has deployed a preventive programme to attend to and monitor these risk groups. The objective: to avoid infections among potentially vulnerable people and to achieve 80% less demand for the health system.

"It is essential to let them know that they are at risk, for them to follow extreme security measures and to reinforce the monitoring of their health, social and emotional state", explains the director of the Àrea de Ciutadania, Innovació i Usuari, Rosa Romà. In this sense, primary care will be the line of assistance that will be responsible for implementing this plan. This will be done through two strategies: telephone or SMS - calls will be made prioritising the nearly 200,000 users who have not had contact with their primary care team in the last year - and face-to-face visits. According to the Catalan Health Department, not only will information and advice be offered to prevent contagion, but patients who, for example, also need a social assessment or because they live in a situation of social vulnerability that prevents them from following the advice and recommendations of Public Health will also be called.

Acebes points out that, in some visits, professionals will provide a pulse oximeter for the patient himself to measure the oxygen saturation of the blood at home. You will also be asked to monitor your body temperature if you have symptoms and immediately report them to your health centre. "These are two measures that can help make an early diagnosis of cases and change the course of the disease if acted on early," Acebes says. "We want people to be aware that the most important thing is that they do not become ill," he adds.

This is confirmed by Romà, who insists that this plan is not based "simply on telling someone to stay home because they are more at risk. In the hypothetical case that these people would only heed the directive not to move, "surely it could have complications in emotional or mental health, cognitive status or mobility," says Romà. Thus, the Health Department asks to work on "other actions to counteract a change in habits": for example, to stop smoking, improve nutrition, always comply with safety measures (distance, hand washing and mask) and avoid all social interaction that is dispensable.