Surgeon General: Time to address COVID-19 comorbidities

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams (file photo)

As we well know, the majority of COVID-19 related deaths on Guam have been among people who had pre-existing health conditions.

And America’s Surgeon General says it’s time we address those co-morbidities.

COVID-19 has certainly magnified many long-standing problems in our society though none more so than the so-called “underlying health issues” which have become synonymous with virus-related deaths.

The U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, says there’s now an added urgency for people to get their vitals in check.

“We are focused on controlling high blood pressure because that will stop heart disease, stroke, kidney disease – which are your top killers – but it will also save lives from COVID-19,” Adams said.

Loading the player...

In his Zoom conference with Guam officials and the medical community this week, Dr. Adams said high blood pressure takes twice as many lives each year as COVID-19 will this year alone.

“Stroke, kidney disease, uncontrolled high blood pressure, those will kill more people on Guam this year by far than COVID-19 and guess what, if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, it will also put you at higher risk for these diseases which puts you at higher risk for complications from COVID-19,” Adams said.

On Guam, virtually all COVID-related deaths were people with co-morbidities that are largely preventable or manageable.

In fact, Public Health says more than half of those who died on the island from COVID had diabetes.

Adams says the truth of the matter though is that these medical conditions are not the true root of the problem. Rather, the real predictors are upstream factors.

“Lack of access to transportation. Lack of a job that pays an affordable job. Lack of safe and affordable housing…you’re not going to be compliant with your diabetes medication if you don’t know where you’re going to lay your head at night,” Adams said.

He says his mission is to get people more aware of their blood pressure with his “Hypertension Call to Action” initiative.

But ultimately he says, it’s not all just on doctors, nurses, or the federal government.

“We’ve all got to do our part and one of the simple things you can do is know your blood pressure. And, recognize whether you’re one of the two adults in America who has high blood pressure…and then take measures to help get it under control,” Adams said.

Just today, the Joint Information Center reported two more COVID-related deaths on the island.

First, a 37-year-old man died at GRMC around 10:15 Thursday night. He was admitted to the hospital yesterday and tested positive for COVID when he got there. He did NOT have any known pre-existing conditions.

The second death was a 62-year-old man, who passed at GMH around 4:30 this morning. He did have co-morbidities, which were compounded by the virus.