Health officials in the U.S. and around the globe have long contended that those with prior medical issues are at higher risk of serious complications or even death from the novel coronavirus disease known as COVID-19. Now, a study out of Italy seems to confirm those suspicions.
According to the New York Post, research released Tuesday from the Italian National Institutes of Health revealed that “more than 99% of coronavirus patients who died in Italy suffered from other, pre-existing health issues.” In fact, Italian health officials found that of 355 coronavirus-related deaths in the country that they reviewed, just three patients suffered no other medical conditions, the Post reported.
Italy gets hit hard
According to the Post, the study out of Italy found that roughly half of COVID-19–related deaths involved patients who had diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or a combination of the three. Hypertension alone affected roughly 75% of patients studied.
According to Bloomberg News, nearly half of patients studied (48.5%) had three or more pre-existing medical conditions.
Meanwhile, roughly a quarter of coronavirus deaths reviewed by Italian officials occurred in patients with two or more underlying conditions. Less than 1% had no other medical issues before being diagnosed with COVID-19, Bloomberg reported.
Reports from Bloomberg and the New York Post suggested that this data could help explain why the death toll from the coronavirus in Italy is so much higher than that of other countries. Italy has a death rate of around 8%, the Post noted, citing World Health Organization (WHO) data, while the global average sits at around half that.
According to Bloomberg, the study also found that the average age of COVID-19 patients who have succumbed to the disease in Italy was 79.5. The median age of those who contracted the disease was around 63, Bloomberg reported.
As of Tuesday, only 17 patients under the age of 50 had died from the coronavirus in Italy, Bloomberg added, and “all of Italy’s victims under 40 have been males with serious existing medical conditions,” the outlet noted.
But as COVID-19 continues to make its presence known around the world, this news is hardly reassuring — particularly for those with underlying health issues. According to the Washington Examiner, there have already been nearly 9,000 deaths from the disease globally, and hundreds of thousands of confirmed cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Thursday that there were 10,442 cases in the U.S. alone, with 150 deaths.
Still, there’s a glimmer of hope. According to the Examiner, “over 83,000 people have recovered from the coronavirus” across the globe.
And that number is only continuing to climb.