Older Aussies with higher risk of death

Almost two million older Australians have a much higher chance of dying than other people in their age group, according to research from Roy Morgan.

Around 1.8 million Australians aged 70-plus have a ‘comorbidity’ condition that puts them at higher risk from COVID-19, with more than 65 per cent of this age group having a pre-existing condition that puts them at higher risk of dying if they were to contract the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Analysis of the top 10 comorbidities identified by authorities including the Australian Government and the New York Department of Health revealed that high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes are the leading comorbidities for older Australians

One million people aged 70-plus suffer from the most common comorbid condition suffered by older Australians – hypertension (high blood pressure) – representing a third of people in this age group.

Around a quarter of this age group (710,000) have some form of cancer, making it the second most common comorbidity for older Australians.

Findings from the latest Roy Morgan health and wellbeing data conducted in the 12 months to March 2020 show that older Australians are at risk of other common comorbid conditions including diabetes (435,000 – 15 per cent), high cholesterol/cholesterol problems (363,000 – 13 per cent) and an irregular heartbeat (121,000 – per cent).

top 10 COVID-19 comorbidity graph 

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2019–March 2020.

“Australians aged 70 and over are at increased risk of death should they contract the COVID-19 coronavirus, which is why it was so important Australia took extensive measures to flatten the curve’” said Roy Morgan chief Michelle Levine.

“Extensive tracking of those who have succumbed to the virus in New York State – where over 300,000 have contracted COVID-19 and over 20,000 have died during the pandemic – shows several underlying health conditions significantly increase one’s risk of dying from COVID-19.

“The fact that nearly two-thirds of all Australians aged 70-plus suffer from one of the top 10 conditions shows how dangerous an uncontrolled outbreak of COVID-19 could be.

“So far just over 80 Australians have died with a COVID-19 infection during March and April. Of those to have died, over 80 per cent have been aged at least 70 years of age or older.

“Although Australia has done well to reduce the spread of infection in recent weeks, it appears the ‘new normal’ will require social distancing measures and a ban on large gatherings for some time to prevent a renewed outbreak of the disease that could put at risk the lives of millions of the more vulnerable Australians at risk.”

Do you have one of these health conditions? How do you feel about the potential lifting of social distancing restrictions?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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