People with two or more long-term health conditions have an almost 50% higher risk of getting a positive Covid-19 test, according to new research.
The study, led by the University of Glasgow, is the first to link both multimorbidity and polypharmacy with the likelihood of contracting coronavirus.
It found those with multiple long-term health conditions are linked to a 48% greater risk of a positive test result, while for those with two or more cardiometabolic diseases like diabetes it is 77% higher.
Dr Barbara Nicholl, who led the study, said: “Multimorbidity and polypharmacy are global healthcare challenges in their own right.
“Our study shows that having a positive Covid-19 test is more common in those living with these health conditions.
“These results will be important for public health and clinical decisions in the future as we continue to manage the health of those at greatest risk of a severe Covid-19 infection during this pandemic.”
People with two or more long-term health conditions who appeared to be most susceptible to infection were from deprived areas, of non-white ethnicity, considered severely obese, and those with reduced renal function.
Those of non-white ethnicity, who also had multimorbidity, had almost three times the risk of a positive Covid-19 test.
The researchers believe their findings will have implications for clinical and public health decision-making as the pandemic continues around the world.
Professor Frances Mair, the University of Glasgow Norie Miller Professor of General Practice and a leading expert on multimorbidity, said: “Given the high prevalence of multimorbidity, particularly in older age groups, the more detailed understanding of the associations between these complex health needs and Covid-19, as provided in this study, will improve our understanding of the risks and help us better advise those most vulnerable to severe infection.”
The study is based on UK Biobank data, which is now linked to Covid-19 test results.
It included 428,199 adults aged between 37 and 73 at the time of recruitment – 2006-2010 – across England and Wales.