Italian Study: Most Who Died from Coronavirus Had Pre-Existing Condition

Medical staff wait outside a sanitary tent installed in Piacenza next to the hospital on February 26, 2020. - Italy saw a fresh jump in the number of cases of the new coronavirus on February 26, 2020 with another death also reported to bring the total to 12 and 374 …
MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

An Italian study revealed that most of the patients who have died from the coronavirus previously had some type of illness or pre-existing condition.

But while these people are dying, the majority of coronavirus patients in hospitals are younger, healthier people — and they’re being prioritized by hospital staff.

The average age of those who have died from the Chinese virus in Italy is 79.5, according to a study by Italian health authorities, who have been examining the medical records involving the nation’s surging coronavirus death toll.

The study adds that more than 99 percent of Italy’s coronavirus deaths have been people who were previously ill or had some type of pre-existing medical condition, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Among those who have died from the Wuhan virus in Italy, more than 76 percent of them had high blood pressure, more than 35 percent had diabetes, 33 percent had heart disease, and more than 24 percent had atrial fibrillation, or “AFib,” according to Italy’s national health authority.

So far, 17 people under the age of 50 have died from the disease in Italy, all of whom have had some type of previous illness, the study finds.

While the study could provide some insight into why Italy’s coronavirus death rate appears significantly higher than the death rates in other countries — about eight percent — another factor to take into consideration is that the young, healthier people are overwhelming the Italian hospitals.

While older people — as well as younger people with pre-existing conditions — are dying from the Chinese virus in Italy, the majority of coronavirus patients occupying ICU beds are younger than the average age of those who die from the virus, and they’re being prioritized by hospital staff, doctors say.

“If someone between 80 and 95 has serious breathing difficulties, you probably don’t proceed,” admitted an anesthetist at a hospital in Bergamo.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Bergamo has stated that patients who cannot be treated for the coronavirus “are left to die” by doctors who are forced to overlook older, sicker patients in order to make room for those who are younger and more likely to survive.

Among those occupying Italian hospitals, 12 percent are between the ages of 19 and 50, about 52 percent are between the ages of 51 and 70, with the remainder all over 70, according to inews UK.

Therefore, roughly 64 percent of coronavirus patients are reportedly under the age of 70.

The study by Italian health authorities had also noted that while the average age of those who succumb to the coronavirus is 79.5, the average age of those who become infected with the disease is 63.

“Even if the data is only preliminary, the fact there are more young people hospitalized and in intensive care compared to the first wave can be interpreted as a natural phenomenon,” said Pisa University professor Pierluigi Lopalco to Corriere della Sera.

“In Italy, the first clusters of the infection started around hospitals, more commonly frequented by older people, and in small towns,” he added. “Now, the virus has spread.”

“It is travelling around the whole country way more,” said Lopalco, “and it is younger people with lots of social contact that are more at risk of contracting the disease if they do not stick to the rules of social distancing.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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