COVID-19 Deaths and Comorbidities What is Really Killing Americans?

In a recent data release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC supplied the world with a glimpse into the data behind the United States COVID-19-related deaths during the current pandemic.    In this list, the CDC lists what are termed comorbidities; health-related issues that are listed on a death certificate, in these cases, along with COVID-19 of course.  Let's look at some of the more interesting comorbidities and I will leave it up to you to decide whether the deaths were because of COVID-19 or were the primary cause of death.

Conditions contributing to the cause of death were identified using the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Edition (ICD-10).  It is important to note that there is a lag time of between one and eight weeks or more between the time that the death occurred and the date of issue of the death certificate and submission of the data to the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC.

Let's start by looking at this table from the CDC showing where COVID-19-related deaths took place:

Here are some of the more interesting comorbidities reported to the National Center for Health Statistics in no particular order:

1.) Malignant neoplasms (i.e. cancer) – 12,379 deaths

2.) Diabetes – 41,673 deaths

3.) Alzheimer’s/Dementia – 38,577 deaths 

4.) Renal Failure/Chronic Kidney Disease – 23,202 deaths

5.) Syphilis – 15 deaths

6.) Meningitis – 15 deaths

7.) HIV – 784 deaths

8.) Sickle-Cell Anaemia/Sickle-Cell Trait – 75 deaths

9.) Maple Syrup Urine Disease – 2 deaths

10.) Cystic Fibrosis – 5 deaths

11.) Disorders due to Alcohol Use – 704 deaths

12.) Disorders due to Opioid Use – 58 deaths

13.) Disorders due to Cannabinoid Use – 4 deaths

14.) Disorders due to Cocaine Use – 38 deaths

15.) Disorders due to Tobacco Use – 11,684 deaths

16.) Disorders due to Multiple Drug Use – 215 deaths

17.) Schizophrenia – 718 deaths

18.) Depressive Disorders – 1,120 deaths

19.) Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – 101 deaths

20.) Mental Retardation – 174 deaths

21.) Parkinson's Disease – 4,209 deaths

22.) Sleep Apnea – 1,861 deaths

23.) Alcohol-related liver issues – 614 deaths

24.) Gout – 223 deaths

25.) Newborn Health Issues – 38 deaths

26.) Poisonings of all types – 374 deaths

27.) Heatstroke and Sunstroke – 8 deaths

28.) Hypothermia – 17 deaths

29.) Asphyxiation – 19 deaths

30.) Bone Marrow Transplant Rejection – 18 deaths

31.) Transplanted Organ Failure – 66 deaths

32.) Pedestrian Injured in Collisions – 14 deaths

33.) Pedal Cyclist Injured in Collision – 1 death

34.) Motorcycle Rider Injured in Collision – 7 deaths

35.) Rider Injured by Fall from Animal  – 1 death

36.) Falls of All Types – 1,177 deaths

37.) Contact with Powered Lawnmower – 1 death

38.) Drowning or Submersion in Bathtub – 3 deaths

39.) Inhalation of Food or Other Objects – 517 deaths

40.) Exposure to Fire, Smoke or Flames – 10 deaths

41.) Victim of Lightning – 1 death

42.) Intentional Self-Harm By Various Means – 42 deaths

43.) Abnormal Reaction to Surgeries – 470 deaths

44.) Deaths Related to War Operations – 2

45.) Exposure to Excessive Natural Heat – 14

46.) Exposure to Excessive Natural Cold – 16

If you are interested, you can access the entire data set here.

As you can see, there is a very wide list of comorbidities, some of which would most likely result in death whether or not COVID-19 was present.  It is also an interesting exercise to get a cross section of the health issues that face millions of Americans, particularly cancer and diabetes and how these diseases will have a long-term impact on longevity, especially when a pandemic virus is introduced into the equation.

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