Overweight or obesity can be an independent risk factor for many diseases. Although COVID-19 is not caused by obesity, it can be worsened (require oxygen and mechanical invasive ventilation) in patients who are obese or overweight. The risk of death is not affected by obesity thought. Some 7244 patients from 18 sites in 11 different countries were studied retrospectively to conclude the findings mentioned above.
Some significant findings of this international retrospective meta-analysis, published in the journal Diabetes Care are as follows: out of 7244 patients, 34.8% were overweight and 30.8% were obese, suggesting that obese COVID-19 patients require frequent oxygen support and they are at 73% higher risk of requiring mechanical ventilation. Amazingly the mortality rate was not affected by obesity, as higher mortality was observed in normal-weight and obese patients.
Many studies have been conducted on a national level to understand the important role of obesity/overweight in the severity of COVID-19 but never before such one large study on this topic with a collection of huge data has been conducted on an international, multi center level, explained Siroon Bekkering and Immunologist of Radboud University Medical Center. With the help of this study, it is easier to look at the risk factors separately as it combines large data set from multiple nations. It is well known that overweight and obesity are distinguished by chronic inflammation, leading to higher vulnerability to viruses, similarly, people who are obese have a high likelihood of shortness of breath thus leading to an increased need for ventilation She concluded, “Regardless of other risk factors like heart diseases or diabetes, we now see that too high a BMI can lead to a more severe course in corona infection.”
The study highlighted other risk factors like gender seems to influence the severity of corona infection. Men are found to have the critical course of COVID-19 infection. Similarly, age also appears to be a risk factor, that is; the need for supplemental oxygen increases in people above 65 years of age thus putting them at higher risk of death. Other factors like on-hospital death are associated with pre-existing pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases, the study doesn’t suggest any significant association between increased risk of requiring supplemental oxygen and mechanical ventilation. Diabetic patients are at higher risk of necessitating invasive respiratory support.
To conclude, the risks of the severity of COVID-19 in hospitalized, adult obese/overweight patients is high as they are at amplified odds of needing respiratory support (supplemental oxygenation or invasive ventilation), but no association with death has been reported.
COVID-19, obesity, overweight, high BMI, mechanical ventilation.