New Delhi: Covid-related hospitalizations claimed lives of middle-aged to elderly Indians more frequently than people of the same age groups in other regions of the world, according to a new study.
The study, led by the World Heart Federation in association with the Public Health Foundation of India, revealed that a higher prevalence of diabetes and hypertension among Indians are the major drivers of the increased mortality.
The study included 40 hospitals from 23 countries, with 5,313 patients admitted with Covid and aimed to bridge the research gap between low and high-income countries.
The findings, published in the journal Global Heart, showed that during the pandemic Indians had nearly three times higher mortality due to Covid hospitalisation, than the European population. However, the number was less than the Hispanics and Blacks.
“South Asians (Indians) in the middle-aged to elderly group died more frequently than other regions due to Covid hospitalisations, owing to significantly greater background prevalence of diabetes and hypertension,” D. Prabhakaran, Vice President, Research and Policy, PHFI, told IANS.
The study demonstrated that patients were relatively younger as compared to previous research (where the average age was 57 years), predominantly middle aged men, with high prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension diabetes and high mortality up to 30 days.
Patients of Asian, Hispanic or Black ethnicities had higher death rates both within the hospital and after discharge as compared to white Caucasians, Prabhakaran said. Another finding was that patients with HIV had increased death at 30 days but not during hospitalisation.
Various studies have shown that Covid pandemic increased death among patients with heart disease or their risk factors.
For example, the chances of dying or having Covid-related complications particularly with the Alpha and Delta strains were 2-3 times higher among those with hypertension, diabetes or established heart disease, including previous heart attack or those who had undergone a previous bypass surgery as compared to those without the presence of any of these.
“The effects of Covid-19 on the heart can be direct or indirect. It can be direct damage to the heart during the cytokine storm or indirect because of low levels of oxygen due to lung disease,” Prabhakaran said.
“However, the good news is that with recent Omicron infections, the cytokine storm is extremely low. This may be related to the high vaccination rates or the inherently lower virulence (the severity or harmfulness of the virus) of the Omicron strain,” he added.