By Dr. Zulfikar Bux
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Vanderbilt Medical Center
The COVID-19 pandemic has now been around long enough and actual data on its target population is becoming much clearer than the initial stages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has released data from a year of analysing hospitalised patients and have identified the persons who are at higher risk of dying from COVID-19. Data from a total of 540,667 US patients hospitalised with COVID-19 from March 2020 to March 2021 were analysed and the factors mentioned today, were associated with higher death rates from the disease.
One is considered obese if they are above 20 percent of their ideal weight for their height. This amounts to a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above. The data released by the CDC showed that obese patients hospitalised with COVID-19 had a more than 30-fold higher risk of dying from COVID-19. This meant that a higher proportion of obese persons were dying from COVID-19 than any other population of patients.
Anxiety and fear-related disorders
This came as a surprise to many since anxiety and fear-related disorders were not initially thought to increase one’s risk of dying from COVID-19. The data showed that patients hospitalised with COVID-19 had a 28-fold increase in risk of dying from the disease. A subset of the study population had developed anxiety during COVID-19 and researchers are theorising that anxiety may be one of the resulting sequalae of COVID-19 itself. More study is needed on this category to determine if patients with pre-existing anxiety and fear related disorders, are more prone to developing COVID-19 anxiety and therefore having an increased risk of dying from the disease.
Diabetes with complications
It was previously thought that being diabetic increased one’s risk of dying from COVID-19. The data from CDC debunked this theory as diabetics without complications did not have an increased risk of dying from COVID-19. However, diabetics with complications from diabetes (Kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, skin conditions, etc.) had a 26-fold increased risk of dying from COVID-19.
Chronic Kidney disease
Patients that have chronic kidney disease are those whose kidneys are irreversibly failing and they cannot filter waste from blood as they usually do. Patients with chronic kidney disease had a 21-fold increase risk of dying from COVID-19.
Coronary atherosclerosis and other heart disease
Coronary atherosclerosis accounts for a few conditions which includes high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia, coronary artery disease, etc. Patients with these and other heart conditions had a 14-fold increase risk of dying from COVID-19.
Older age and males
The data also revealed that one’s risk of dying from COVID-19 doubles with every five-year (4.82 years) increase in age. It also revealed that a higher proportion of males (59 percent) died from the disease than females (41 percent). Researchers are now looking into data to see how persons with higher proportion of male hormones are dying from COVID-19.
While we were aware of some of these risk factors, others are surprising and I thought it was worth sharing with you so that you can be more vigilant with those around you that may have these underlying conditions. The data on COVID-19 is getting clearer as time progresses. Let’s use this to our advantage and base our choices from credible information from credible sources; social media is often not the best option.
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