TORONTO – Cardiology researchers have a hypothesis as to why the number of people who succumbed to COVID-19 is higher in Canada than in other countries offering fewer health services: more and more Canadians are living longer with a chronic illness, which puts them at greater risk of dying from the virus.
The study by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, released this week, also indicates that the pandemic has delayed thousands of medical procedures related to cardiovascular health.
The study’s lead author, Cindy Yip, says the results highlight the serious consequences of poor heart health, although excellent medical care and cutting-edge technology are available for these patients.
“The quality of care is good, but it is not enough,” said Ms. Yip, knowledge management and heart disease program at the Foundation, also known as Heart + Stroke.
She points out that Canadians are vulnerable to pandemics like COVID-19 because many have survived other serious health problems.
“Because people are living longer with chronic conditions like heart disease and stroke, we need to take action, and we need these people to help us take care of their health.”
The study found that 11.7% of Canadians suffer from cardiovascular disease, which includes stroke. This places Canada in the top third of the 63 countries studied – worse than the United States (11.6%), Russia (10%), South Korea (7.6%), India (4, 3%) and Pakistan (3.8%).
6.1% mortality rate
In terms of death rates from COVID-19, Canada fares poorly compared to countries with weaker health systems such as Russia, India and China.
The study examined COVID-19 cases reported between January 21 and April 30, when Canada had 54,457 confirmed cases and a 6.1% mortality rate.
In comparison, for the same period, the death rate was 1% in Russia, 3.3% in India and 5.5% in China.
Yip acknowledged that there are differences in how each country reports deaths, but said the researchers made sure to use comparable data from the World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins University. Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
She explained that the analysis had taken into account the differences in access to health services among the countries studied. However, the researchers noted a clear relationship between deaths from COVID-19 and the prevalence of heart disease and stroke.
The study determined that for every 1% increase in the number of people with heart problems in a given country, the death rate from COVID-19 was 19% higher.
The age of the population also influences the mortality rate. Thus, for each 1% increase in the number of people aged 65 and over, the death rate from COVID-19 was 9% higher. Almost 9% of the Canadian population is 65 years of age or older.
Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press