Israel's Coronavirus Dead Also Had High Blood Pressure, Diabetes and Heart Disease

According to data released by the Health Ministry, vast majority of deaths were 70 or older

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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The coronavirus ward at Shamir Medical Center, Tel Aviv, September 2020.
The coronavirus ward at Shamir Medical Center, Tel Aviv, September 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

The main pre-existing conditions associated Israel's coronavirus deaths are high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, according to data released by the Health Ministry on Monday.

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Data presented to the Knesset’s coronavirus cabinet showed that 42 percent of the Israelis who died of the virus had high blood pressure (433 people), 29 percent had diabetes (296 people) and 27 percent had heart disease (27 people).

Another 111 patients had lung disease, 40 had weakened immune systems and 15 had liver problems. Some of those with weakened immune systems were cancer patients, and some patients had more than one condition.

Data shows that many people who die of COVID-19 have pre-existing health problems, but until now, the information released by the Health Ministry and Israeli hospitals hasn’t specified what those problems were. Even the figures presented on Monday aren’t completely up to date, though they cover all 1,020 coronavirus deaths prior to September 6.

The data shows that 53 percent of the fatalities were men and 47 percent were women. Only 17 percent of those who died were aged 69 or younger, including five people younger than 40. A quarter of the fatalities were aged 90 and above, 35 percent were aged between 80 to 89 and 23 percent were aged between 70 to 79.

As of last week, around 3,100 Israelis had been seriously ill with the virus. Again, more of these were men (around 1,800) than women, and 70 percent were aged 60 or above. Just two percent were aged 29 or younger.

Patients aged 50 to 59 constituted 15 percent of the seriously ill, but just 4.4 percent of fatalities. Similarly, patients aged 40 to 49 constituted seven percent of the seriously ill, but just 1.3 percent of fatalities.

The Health Ministry’s deputy director general, Prof. Itamar Grotto, presented the data to the coronavirus committee. He also responded to the claim that the coronavirus isn’t causing any more deaths than the flu.

In all of the over 1,000 coronavirus fatalities, he said, doctors had determined that the virus was the principal cause of death. In contrast, “every year 700 to 1,000 people die of complications of the flu in Israel, but the flu is the direct, immediate cause of only around 100 fatalities,” he said.

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the Health Ministry’s director of public health services, commented on the Central Bureau of Statistics finding that despite the virus, the number of deaths in Israel has been no higher than it was in previous years. First, she said, this is due to the lockdown during the first wave of the virus, when very few operations were performed.

Second, she added, “All the data about the absence of a rise in mortality was only [for the period] until July. Since that month, there has been a rise in mortality, which is why we raised a red flag.”

Jerusalem is the city with the most deaths and seriously ill patients (155 and 584, respectively). It is followed by Bnei Brak (74 and 167) and then Tel Aviv (67 and 153).

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