What ‘underlying medical conditions’ are killing COVID-19 patients?

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego County health officials say the vast majority of San Diegans who die from COVID-19 suffer from underlying medical conditions, and Wednesday they listed what the most common conditions are.

The No.1 underlying medical condition leading to death from the coronavirus is hypertension, said Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Eric McDonald. More than half the patients who die from the virus suffer from hypertension, he said. 6% of those who die only have that pre-condition.

McDonald said the following pre-existing conditions were responsible for the vast majority of deaths:

  1. Hypertension contributed to 54% of all deaths,
  2. Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, 36% of deaths,
  3. Diabetes, 31% of deaths,
  4. Cardiovascular disease, 30% of deaths,
  5. Chronic kidney disease, 20% of deaths,
  6. COPD or asthma, 11% of deaths,
  7. Compromised immune systems, 9% of deaths,
  8. Obesity, 6% of deaths.

“These percentages of the breakdown of the relationships between underlying medical conditions and deaths in San Diego are actually very similar to what’s being seen across the country,” McDonald said.

The county’s chief medical officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten said these same conditions also contribute to flu deaths in San Diego every year.

“There is no reason to look at them differently,” Wooten said. “Every flu season, we tell people, if you have underlying medical conditions, you are at a greater risk of complications, and that includes death. The same premise prevails here. With COVID-19, if individuals have underlying medical conditions, if they’re older … they are at a greater risk for dying.”

Wooten added, “Their life is no less valuable than someone’s life who doesn’t have underlying conditions.”

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