The COVID-19 outbreak has been especially harsh on the elderly and infirm, or at least those with underlying conditions that allow the coronavirus to gain a foothold.

But the data from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is showing that the same weaknesses in Louisiana’s population that regularly land the state at the top of lists for obesity, smoking, heart disease and other ailments also makes the citizenry especially susceptible to the pandemic.

Last week, LDH began including the underlying conditions of the patients who have died from COVID-19 in its daily updates. Many of the patients suffered from more than one of the conditions, making a one-to-one analysis of conditions difficult. But they look to have roots in the culture and eating habits of the patients.

The number one condition, diabetes, affected 40 percent of the patients who have died. Next came obesity, which 25 percent of the victims suffered from.

In short order followed chronic kidney disease, at 23 percent, cardiac disease at 21 percent, and pulmonary disease at 12 percent.

In its 2019 report, American Health Rankings put Louisiana at 49th for overall health. The state scored in the bottom 20 percent for obesity (47), physical inactivity (46), and smoking (43).

“Obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable life-years lost among Americans,” the report’s summary on obesity explained. “Adults who have obesity compared with adults at a healthy weight are more likely to have a decreased quality of life and have an increased risk of developing serious health conditions including hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, sleep apnea and breathing problems, some cancers, and mental illness such as depression and anxiety.”

Of the 185 deaths so far in Louisiana from COVID-19, only 3 percent had no underlying conditions.

Other conditions that have affected the fatalities include neurological issues (6 percent), being immunocompromised (4 percent), and chronic liver disease (2 percent).

Dwayne Fatherree is the community editor for The Daily Iberian. He can be reached at dwayne.fatherree@daily-iberian.com.

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