Who is most likely to die from COVID-19?


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)- The Centers for Disease Control painted a grim picture of characteristics in persons who have died from COVID-19.

An analysis by CBS17.com found white men, over age 65 with cardiovascular disease were most likely to die from COVID-19.

Underlying health conditions were a considerable factor in severe illness and deaths associated with COVID-19. In three-quarters of deaths, there was at least one underlying health condition present. In about half the deaths, there were at least two underlying health conditions.

Cardiovascular disease was the most prominent.

Underlying ConditionPercentage of deaths present
Cardiovascular disease61%
Chronic kidney disease21%
Chronic lung disease19%
Source: CDC

Nationally, while 35 percent of deaths were in Whites, second place was fairly close between Blacks (24.9 percent) and Hispanics (24.4 percent).

Men made up 60 percent of all cases nationwide.

The increased risk is partly due to the way COVID-19 impacts the body.

“Patients who have COVID-19 are at increased risk for blood clots that can form in various blood vessels. This can lead to heart attack or even what we call a pulmonary embolism,’ said Dr. Sunil Rao, a cardiologist at Duke University School of Medicine

It is important to note, the CDC’s report is based on information compiled from February 12–May 18, 2020.

Dr. Rao said he was not surprised by the makeup of the majority of deaths. He said cardiovascular disease is a very common disease affecting older people.

What was more concerning to him was the CDC’s report that younger Black and LatinX patients were also dying from COVID-19.

“That’s quite surprising because we had originally thought that younger patients were being protected from severe COVID-19 infection. We now know that’s not the case. In fact, the CDC has done away with an age threshold. The older you are, the more at risk you are. It’s a continuous risk. Patients who are in the Black and Latino or Hispanic community, those patients seem to be at even higher risk for the severe COVID-19 infection at younger ages than their white counterparts,” said Dr. Rao.

The report found “Overall, 34.9 percent of Hispanic and 29.5 percent of nonwhite decedents were aged under 65 years, compared with 13.2 percent of white, non-Hispanic decedents.”

Read the entire report here.

A Closer Look at North Carolina

Using more recent and local information, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported half of North Carolinians are at elevated risks of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 based on their age and underlying health issues.

NCDHHS reported 42 percent of state residents had underlying health conditions that included chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, severe obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, or immunosuppressive conditions.

Looking at deaths where underlying issues were present, cardiovascular disease was present in 51 percent of deaths. Overall, NCDHHS reported it was present in nine percent of all cases.

Diabetes was also a significant risk factor making up for 35 percent of deaths where there was an underlying health condition.

Chronic lung disease, kidney disease also played significant roles in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Protect yourself

Dr. Rao said its is critical for patients with underlying health condition to keep up with their routine care. He said that includes having a hearty supply of your medication to reduce your need to venture outside your home.

Dr. Rao said doctors are finding patients are avoiding seeking medical care. He said it’s important for patients to know medical professionals are taking extra precautions to to

“Really don’t hesitate to seek medical attention right away,” said Dr. Rao.

What’s just as important is to be able to recognize what is normal or abnormal for your underlying health condition. Patients should also be able distinguish what is a COVID-19 symptom. Any changes in symptoms or health condition should be addressed with your doctor or physician.

Patients with underlying health conditions should be more vigilant about hand washing, sanitizing surfaces, wearing masks and social distancing according to Dr. Rao.

Click here to learn more about continued care for cardiovascular disease during COVID-19.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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