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Study Shows Access to Quality Health Care, Tied to People Living Longer with Chronic Disease, Results in Higher COVID-19 Deaths

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New research led by Heart & Stroke published in CJC Open shows that in countries like Canada with accessible health care and a higher proportion of people living with heart conditions and stroke, the COVID-19 death rate is higher than in countries with fewer healthcare services. The study also reveals the serious disruption to essential health care for people living with cardiovascular disease, with more than 1,200 medical procedures being postponed each month in Ontario alone due to the impact of the pandemic.

For every 1% increase in the size of a country’s population with heart conditions or stroke, the death rate from COVID-19 was 19% higher. Older age also puts people at greater risk of dying from COVID-19: for every 1% increase in the size of a country’s population of people 65 years and older, the death rate from COVID-19 was 9% higher.  

The study also identified that countries with higher rates of COVID-19 testing have lower death rates from the virus. For every 1% increase in testing for COVID-19, deaths from COVID-19 decrease 4%. This could be due to a larger overall number of COVID-19 cases identified, resulting in a lower overall death rate, as well as providing more information about active cases.

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