Underlying issues of victims
According to a study by The Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Italy’s national health authority, more than 99% of fatalities from COVID-19 occurred among people who had underlying medical conditions.
The finding came from an examination of Italy’s COVID-19 deaths, which revealed that only 0.8% — had no underlying conditions. On the contrary, nearly 50% of the victims had three underlying conditions while 25% had two conditions and 24% victims had one chronic disease.
Among Italy’s COVID-19 fatalities,
76.1% had high blood pressure
35.5% had diabetes
33% had heart disease
A report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19, released in February 2020, similarly found a higher crude fatality ratio (CFR) among people with additional health conditions. While those who were otherwise healthy had a CFR of 1.4%, those with comorbid conditions had much higher rates, as follows:
- Cardiovascular disease — 13.2%
- Diabetes — 9.2%
- High blood pressure — 8.4%
- Chronic respiratory disease — 8%
- Cancer — 7.6%
Obesity an underlying issue
The Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre of the UK released a report on 196 patients critically ill with COVID-19. Among them, 56 patients had a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 30, which is classified as overweight, 58 had a BMI of 30 to 40, which indicates obesity, and 13 had a BMI of 40 or higher which is classified as severely obese. Overall, 71.7% of the critical patients were overweight, obese or severely obese.
Deaths in Italy
In Italy, however — the “new” epicenter for COVID-19 — the number of deaths reportedly overtook those in China by mid- to late March 2020.
Age is a factor
While the median age of those infected was 63, most deaths occurred in older people, with 79.5 being the average age of those who’ve died. Among those who were under 40 when they died, all had serious underlying health conditions.
As the home to the world’s second-oldest population after Japan, Italy’s elderly population is at increased risk of death from COVID-19, but there’s another factor that also makes you more susceptible to death or serious illness if you contract COVID-19: an underlying health condition, particularly diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity. All of which are Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) and directly related to your lifestyle.
A study involved 1,590 laboratory-confirmed hospitalized patients, revealed that people with a chronic condition were 1.8 times more likely to have a poor outcome compared to those with none. This jumped to 2.6 times more likely for those with two chronic conditions.
This is why, if you want to stay healthy in this pandemic, one of the best strategies is to get your underlying chronic conditions under control; even diabetes and high blood pressure can often be reversed via healthy diet and lifestyle.
Statistics of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD)
In India, the statistics are alarming, it is estimated that
- 20% people suffer from at least 1 chronic disease
- 11.8% people are diabetic
- 25% people suffer from hypertension
- 14% of the population suffer from obesity
In the U.S.A., it is even worse,
- 45% people suffer from at least one chronic disease.
- Among them, more than 1 in 10 have diabetes (and another 1 in 3 are prediabetic)
- 108 million adults have high blood pressure.
- 71.6% of U.S. adults aged 20 and over are overweight or obese.
NCDs and lifestyle diseases are rapidly increasing globally and reached epidemic proportions in many countries, largely due to globalization, industrialization, rapid urbanization with demographic and lifestyle changes.
Governmental agencies should provide clean air, water and infrastructure, and promote the benefits of healthy life style, food habits and physical activity to reverse this trend and protect its citizens.
How to stay healthy?
People facing Type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, conditions can be turned around, and in so doing you’ll significantly reduce your risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.
These tips that follow will help you prevent and reverse obesity, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, while helping you boost your immune system to avoid both chronic diseases and illness from infectious agents alike:
Limit added sugars – limit you daily sugar intake to 15-25 grams per day.
Low GI food – consume foods that are low in Glycaemic Index (GI) which do not cause any spike in blood sugar levels.
Most of the following are low GI foods: Millets, fruits, non starchy vegetables, peas, lentils, legumes, nuts, sweet potato, rolled or steel cut oats and barley.
Limit net carbs – (total carbohydrates minus fiber) and protein. Shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats and elimination of trans fats.
High fibre – foods that are rich in fibre (both soluble and insoluble) will help in digestion and maintaining gut health.
Ancient local foods – eat foods that your ancestors ate. The local natural and indigenous foods would have developed immunity towards pests over millennia and hence would require no or less chemicals to grow.
Foods like yams, tubers, different herbs like turmeric, ginger, tulsi, brahmi, doddapatre (Indian Borage), peppers, amla, etc, will strengthen your body’s immunity to fight diseases. Most of these foods will have different vitamins too which is an added advantage.
Research has shown that Black jamun seeds powder and woodapple have immense benefits for diabetic people.
Avoid processed foods – do not consume foods that contain synthetics, artificial flavours, chemicals and preservatives. Do not consume GMOs and inorganic foods.
Intermittent fasting – research shows intermittent fasting promotes insulin sensitivity and improves blood sugar management by increasing insulin-mediated glucose uptake rates. This is important not only for resolving Type 2 diabetes but also high blood pressure and obesity.
Get regular exercise – increase physical movement throughout waking hours, with the goal of sitting down less than three hours a day.
Get sufficient sleep – Most need right around eight hours of sleep per night. Research has shown sleep deprivation can have a significant bearing on your insulin sensitivity and immune function.
Optimize your vitamin A, B1, C & D level – ideally through sensible sun exposure and natural food sources.
Optimize your gut health – by regularly eating fermented foods and/or taking a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Stress reduction – should be a regular part of your immune-support and hypertension-reduction plan, as hypertension often has an emotional component to it, especially if you’re chronically stressed or anxious. Include Meditation and yoga programs into your daily life to help calm your mind.
Detoxification – Keep your body clean and free of toxins by regularly detoxing and fasting. Purify your body by drinking good amount of water and purify your lungs by doing Pranayama exercises. Avoid caffeinated drinks.