Nearly all Alaskans who’ve died of COVID-19 had underlying condition, report shows

Published: Dec. 11, 2021 at 2:11 PM AKST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

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 ConditionDeaths (%)
Cardiovascular diseases325 (59%)
Diabetes mellitus172 (31%)
Chronic respiratory diseases136 (25%)
Neurologic conditions and neurodevelopmental disabilities130 (24%)
Chronic renal disease116 (22%)
Smoker (current or former)100 (18%)
Immunocompromised state95 (17)
Obesity90 (16%)
Others110 (20%)

“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.

Copyright 2021 KTUU. All rights reserved.