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36% of people whose deaths were linked to Covid-19 also had a form of dementia

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is by far the most common pre-existing condition among people whose deaths have coronavirus links, Nisra found.

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The data is obtained from death certificates in which Covid-19 is recorded as a factor by a medical professional (Peter Byrne/PA)

The data is obtained from death certificates in which Covid-19 is recorded as a factor by a medical professional (Peter Byrne/PA)

The data is obtained from death certificates in which Covid-19 is recorded as a factor by a medical professional (Peter Byrne/PA)

More than a third of people whose deaths were linked to Covid-19 in Northern Ireland also had a form of dementia, statistics show.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is by far the most common pre-existing condition among people whose deaths have coronavirus links, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) found.

Of 902 Covid-related deaths registered in the region between March and September, 327 (36.3%) patients had a form of dementia. The next most common pre-existing condition was hypertensive disease, which affected 180.

The Nisra report said: “Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is by far the most common pre-existing condition, appearing in 36.3% of Covid-19 related deaths. This may not be surprising given that nearly half (44%) of Covid-19 related deaths up to end September were residents of care homes, and nearly two-thirds (65.5%) were aged 80 or over.”

Comparative data indicates the rate is higher than other parts of the UK. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was also the most common pre-existing condition in England and Wales between March and June but at lower proportions – 27.7% of deaths in England and 23.7% of deaths in Wales.

Nisra obtains its data from death certificates in which Covid-19 is recorded as a factor by a medical professional. The person may or may not have tested positive for the virus.

They present a broader picture of the impact of Covid-19 than those reported daily by Stormont’s Department of Health, which focus primarily on hospital deaths and only include people who have tested positive.

The death certificates also identify the main pre-existing condition – the one most likely to cause death in the absence of Covid-19.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was again the most common, identified as the main pre-existing condition in 297 cases, followed by ischaemic heart diseases (81) and chronic lower respiratory diseases (67).

Again the rate in Northern Ireland (32.9%) was higher for dementia. In Wales the rate for the main pre-existing condition was close to one in five (22.2%). Scotland’s rate (31.3%) is just behind Northern Ireland’s, while England is around one in four (25.8%).

In the 902 Covid-linked deaths in the period analysed, Covid-19 was identified as the underlying cause of the death for 807.

More than nine out of 10 people (91.5%) whose deaths had some link to coronavirus had a pre-existing medical condition. Seventy-seven of the 902 who died had no pre-existing condition.

The average number of pre-existing conditions was 2.32. The number was slightly higher for males (2.4) compared with females (2.24).

Nisra also published its weekly analysis of Covid-19 statistics on Wednesday.

It found that 70 people died with suspected coronavirus in the latest week subjected to statistical analysis. This was down from 86 in the week previously.

The overall toll collated by Nisra stood at 1,674 on December 18.

The comparative departmental death toll on December 18 was 1,180.

Of the 1,674 deaths recorded by Nisra by December 18, 1,002 (60%) occurred in hospital, 553 (33%) in care homes, nine (0.6%) in hospices and 110 (7%) at residential addresses or other locations.

The 562 deaths which occurred in care homes and hospices involved 130 separate establishments.

Nisra also provides an analysis around the total number of care home residents who have died, whether in their home or in hospital, having been transferred for treatment.

Up to December 18, the deaths of 700 care home residents were linked to coronavirus, 147 of which occurred in hospital.

Care home residents make up about 42% of all deaths linked to Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

In the week December 12 to 18, 82 coronavirus-linked deaths were officially registered in Northern Ireland, some of which occurred before that week as fatalities can take a number of days to register.

PA


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