At This Age, You're 11 Times More Likely to Die From COVID, Study Says

Find out if your age puts you at high risk of death from coronavirus.

Ever since coronavirus first hit our shores, we've known that it disproportionately affects the elderly. Now, after months of research, we know just how much more fatal catching COVID can be in advanced stages of life. A new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine sought to examine the factors that put individuals at an increased risk of coronavirus-related death, and they were able to identify the specific age at which your risk of COVID death spikes dramatically. According to the research, patients aged 80 years or older were 11 times more likely to die from the virus, compared with younger adult patients under the age of 40.

The researchers enrolled over 2,200 critically ill patients in the study from at least 65 ICU units across the U.S. To account for differences in patient-level characteristics, they factored in "age, sex, race, hypertension, diabetes, body mass index (BMI)," and a range of other covariates that could affect patient outcomes. They then assessed which factors contributed to mortality within 28 days of admission to the ICU.

Senior black woman sitting in hospital bed
Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

Overall, 784 (over 35 percent) of the critically ill patients died within that time frame, and the researchers were able to identify several factors that contributed to that outcome. As the study explains, "several patient characteristics were associated with a higher risk of death. Similar to previous reports, older age was associated with a higher risk of death, although at least 15 percent of patients died in every age group, including those younger than 40 years."

The study also confirmed that having the aforementioned underlying health conditions contributed to patient outcomes. However, having a comorbidity tended to double or, in very rare cases, triple a patient's risk of death. Being over 80 years of age was the only factor to increase a person's risk so dramatically.

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This means each of us must do our part to shield the elderly from contracting coronavirus in the first place. Wearing masks, social distancing, and offering additional help with errands could make all the difference for the country's most vulnerable population. And for more ways to keep yourself and others safe, check out 50 Essential COVID Safety Tips the CDC Wants You to Know.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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