Patients with an underlying health condition were six times more likely to end up in the hospital and 12 times more likely to die if they contracted COVID-19 than otherwise healthy people, a new federal study shows.
Less than 2% of previously healthy people died from the infection, compared to nearly 20% with preexisting conditions, most often heart disease, diabetes or lung disease, according to the new data, released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Overall, 14% of people who developed COVID-19 have been hospitalized, and 5% of those people died, according to the CDC study.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, which is compiling COVID-19 infections and deaths worldwide, more than 2 million people have become infected with the virus in the United States. Nearly 116,000 Americans have died.
The numbers of confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19 are believed to be underestimates. Many people with symptoms were discouraged from getting tests early on because of a shortage, and many people have died at home and not been counted.
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The elderly are at highest risk of dying from COVID-19
Age was a major factor in infection, hospitalization and death. The elderly — defined as people over 80 — were at highest risk of dying regardless of any underlying health conditions, according to the study.
The virus killed 50% of hospitalized elderly patients with underlying conditions and 30% of hospitalized elderly patients who were previously healthy, the study found. Age also affected incidence of disease, with people over 80 at nearly twice the risk of contracting the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, than those just a decade younger.
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Among about 600,000 patients whose racial and ethnic information were known, about 36% were white, 33% were Hispanic, 22% were Black, 4% were Asian, and 1.3% were American Indian or Alaska Native, the study found. That breakdown confirms previous reports that people of color, who represent about 32% of the U.S. population, are over-represented among those diagnosed with and hospitalized for COVID-19.
In a smaller group for whom information was known about underlying health conditions, 32% had heart disease, 30% had diabetes and 18% had chronic lung disease. About half of the diagnosed patients over 70 reported having heart disease.
About 45% of patients with underlying health issues reported being hospitalized for COVID-19, compared to 8% of patients of previously healthy people.
Although the study found no difference in the rate of infection between men and women, men with underlying health conditions were more likely to end up in the hospital and to die than women with similar conditions. But the difference was not as large as in some previous reports.
About 11% of patients were reported to be pregnant.
An unknown number of people can develop COVID-19 without ever having symptoms or knowing that they have the coronavirus. These people were not reflected in the new report.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19 far deadlier for elderly, those with heart disease, diabetes