‘Severe outcomes are not limited just to those already at the very end of their lives’: Hinshaw

CALGARY — Alberta’s government is now sharing data that shows how many people who have contracted COVID-19 have underlying conditions. But health experts, including Dr. Deena Hinshaw, say Albertans have to remember the virus is not just affecting people who are older or who are sick.

“Severe outcomes are not limited just to those already at the very end of their lives and it is a mistake to think so,” Dr. Hinshaw said Friday. She added hospitalizations are trending younger in the province as case numbers climb.

About one in four people who need to be hospitalized and one in six who are in the ICU do not have any pre-existing medical conditions, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said.

The data, which is only updated up to November 17, shows that ten people have died of COVID-19 without any comorbidities. Seventy-six per cent of people who have died of COVID-19 in the province have three or more underlying conditions.

Statistics don’t tell the whole story

Dr. Raj Bhardwaj, a Calgary physician, says those statistics don’t tell the whole story and some of the most common comorbidities in those who have died of COVID-19 are conditions that hundreds of thousands of Albertans have.

“People die of COVID-19, not of their comorbidities,” Dr. Bhardwaj said.

“If you’re crossing the street and somebody hits you with their car, we don’t say ‘oh, it’s okay, that person had diabetes’. It’s the car hitting you that kills you,” he said.

“It’s important to understand that it’s the COVID-19 hitting you that killed you.”

High blood pressure most common comorbidity in COVID deaths: Alberta Health

The three most common underlying conditions found in Albertans who have died of COVID-19 are high blood pressure, dementia and cardio-vascular diseases.

Hypertension is found in 87 per cent of Albertans who died of COVID-19.

“More than half of men over 50 and almost 70 per cent of men over 65 have high blood pressure” Dr. Hinshaw said.

“That should not be a death sentence.”

And Bhardwaj says the cases and deaths should not be just statistics, either.

“We can’t let the numbers dehumanize the people who are dying here — the friends and the family members who are dying of COVID,” he said.
 

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