COVID-19 and comorbidities: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Postgrad Med. 2020 Nov;132(8):749-755. doi: 10.1080/00325481.2020.1786964. Epub 2020 Jul 14.


SARS-CoV-2 has caused a worldwide pandemic that began with an outbreak of pneumonia cases in the Hubei province of China. Knowledge of those most at risk is integral for treatment, guideline implementation, and resource allocation. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate comorbidities associated with severe and fatal cases of COVID-19. A search was conducted on PubMed and EmBase on 20 April 2020. Pooled estimates were collected using a random-effects model. Thirty-three studies were included in the systematic review and twenty-two in the meta-analysis. Of the total cases 40.80% (95%CI: 35.49%, 46.11%) had comorbidities, while fatal cases had 74.37% (95%CI: 55.78%, 86.97%). Hypertension was more prevalent in severe [47.65% (95%CI: 35.04%, 60.26%)] and fatal [47.90% (95%CI: 40.33%, 55.48%)] cases compared to total cases [14.34% (95%CI: 6.60%, 28.42%)]. Diabetes was more prevalent among fatal cases [24.89% (95%CI: 18.80%, 32.16%)] compared to total cases [9.65% (95%CI: 6.83%, 13.48%)]. Respiratory diseases had a higher prevalence in fatal cases [10.89% (95%CI: 7.57%, 15.43%)] in comparison to total cases [3.65% (95%CI: 2.16%, 6.1%)]. Studies assessing the mechanisms accounting for the associations between severe cases and hypertension, diabetes, and respiratory diseases are crucial in understanding this new disease, managing patients at risk, and developing policies and guidelines that will reduce future risk of severe COVID-19 disease.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; comorbidities; diabetes; hypertension; meta-analysis; respiratory tract diseases.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / mortality
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Noncommunicable Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Management* / methods
  • Risk Management* / organization & administration
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severity of Illness Index