Nearly all Alaskans who’ve died of COVID-19 had underlying condition, report shows
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A state of Alaska epidemiology report shows that nearly all of the Alaskans who had died of COVID-19 through September 2021 had some kind of underlying health condition — primarily heart disease.
The epidemiology bulletin, released last week, found that 96% of the Alaskans whose past medical history was available and died in that time period had at least one underlying medical condition associated with higher risk from COVID-19. Of those who suffered COVID-19 related deaths, 79% had between one and three conditions, 20% had four to six underlying conditions, and six patients, or 1%, had seven or more.
Heart disease was by far the leading underlying condition as 325, or 59% of the Alaskans who died from COVID-19 between January of 2020 and September of 2021 had cardiovascular disease, including hypertension. Diabetes mellitus was an existing condition for 31% of the people who died from COVID-19, and 25% had chronic respiratory diseases.
Here’s the representation of specific medical conditions documented in Alaskans who have died from COVID-19.
|Underlying Medical Condition||Deaths (%)|
|Cardiovascular diseases||325 (59%)|
|Diabetes mellitus||172 (31%)|
|Chronic respiratory diseases||136 (25%)|
|Neurologic conditions and neurodevelopmental disabilities||130 (24%)|
|Chronic renal disease||116 (22%)|
|Smoker (current or former)||100 (18%)|
|Immunocompromised state||95 (17)|
“Other” underlying conditions represented include substance use disorders, mental health conditions, chronic liver disease, and pregnancy, the report points out.
The report says that more than two-thirds of Alaska adults are estimated to have underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness, including diabetes, obesity, chronic obstructive lung disease, heart disease, chronic kidney disease and being a current or past smoker.
In 2019, CDC data shows that 111 Alaskans died with diabetes. In 2019 a state public health report found that 7.3% of Alaskans were diagnosed with diabetes, and another 11% with pre-diabetes. A 2019 state health report stated that in 2016, 4.3% of Alaskans self-reported having coronary heart disease, but that it was likely an underestimation due to heart disease often being asymptomatic and undiagnosed.
The current report on COVID-19 deaths in Alaska found that the rate of death was highest among men, older adults and those with underlying conditions. Eighty-two of the deaths, representing 13% of the deaths reviewed at the time, were residents of long-term care or assisted living facilities.
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