COVID-19 India Deaths: Charts Explain Age, Co-morbidities At Play

Age, coupled with underlying conditions like diabetes, heart disease are causes of fatality in COVID-19 cases.

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India COVID-19 deaths explained
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A 68-year-old woman with diabetes and hypertension, mother of a confirmed COVID-19 patient, passed away on 13th March, at Delhi's Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.

On 12th March, India recorded its first COVID-19 death when a 76-year-old man from Kalburgi, Karnataka passed away. The man had travelled from Saudi Arabia on February 29th and shortly after his arrival he had shown symptoms of the disease. The man had a history of hypertension and asthma.

The disease progression in both cases was similar - It started with cough and fever, developed into pneumonia, respiratory fluctuations, ventilator support, and finally, death.

Trends from China and Italy

In both cases age and co-morbidities played a role. This has been a trend in most deaths so far. In an earlier analysis on March 4th by Institute of Health, Italy, of the 105 deaths they studied, the mean age of mortality was 81.

COVID-19 India Deaths: Charts Explain Age, Co-morbidities At Play

75% of those who died had significant co-morbidities. The same study also indicated that the average age at which people were testing positive for COVID-19 was 60 - putting a 20 year age gap between those who tested positive and the deceased.

In a significant paper published in respected medical journal JAMA, researchers studied 201 COVID-19 positive patients from a single hospital in Wuhan, China (the original epicenter of the disease).

The median age was 51 and 128 patients were men.

84 patients developed ARDS or acute respiratory distress syndrome. 44 patients who developed ARDS eventually died. Of the 84 patients who developed ARDS, 50 patients had dyspnea (breathing difficulties), 23 had hypertension and 16 had diabetes.

The study held that "older age was associated with greater risk of development of ARDS and death likely owing to less rigorous immune response."

An earlier analysis by China's Center for Disease Control had similar outcomes. Of the 72,314 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, the death rate shot up with each passing decade.

COVID-19 India Deaths: Charts Explain Age, Co-morbidities At Play

Age + Co-morbidities = Suppressed Immune System

While age remains a significant indicator of death, it doesn't paint a full picture. Those with underlying conditions like hypertension, diabetes, respiratory disorders remain at risk, irrespective of age.

Here's another set of data for you to look at:

According to a World Health Organisation analysis of cases in China, fatality rate in people with no chronic diseases was 1.4%. But for those with co-morbidities, the numbers shot up significantly:

COVID-19 India Deaths: Charts Explain Age, Co-morbidities At Play

With age, your body's immune response slows down. With a host of viruses, air pollution and general wear and tear, coupled with co-morbidities, the body has already been ravaged. As the data has so far indicated, these patients are not just fighting viruses and bacterial infections, most are dying of inflammation in their lungs.

While a lot more needs to be studied about how the virus is impacting those with underlying conditions, for heart disease patients already battling a weak heart, when lungs also fail, the heart is having a harder time keeping up. Diabetes impacts the lungs ability to fight infections, along with suppressed immune cells ravaged by by high blood sugar.

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