Obesity may increase risk for long-term COVID-19 effects; study

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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A new study shows that COVID-19 survivors with moderate or severe obesity are more likely to experience the disease’s long-term effects, a syndrome often referred to as long-haul COVID-19, compared with patients who do not have obesity.

The study was conducted by Cleveland clinic on 2,839 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 in the Cleveland Clinic Health System between March and July 2020 and did not require ICU admission as well as survived COVID-19’s first phase.

“To our knowledge, this current study for the first time suggests that patients with moderate to severe obesity are at a greater risk of developing long-term complications of COVID-19 beyond the acute phase,” said Mr. Ali Aminian, director of Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric & Metabolic Institute and principal investigator of the research.

Researchers looked at three markers of long-term COVID-19 complications, hospitalization, fatality, and the requirement for diagnostic medical testing that occurred 30 days or later after the first positive SARS-CoV-2 virus test.

The results were compared between five groups of patients depending on their Body Mass Index BMI: 18.5-24.9 (normal), 25-29.9 (overweight), 30-34.9 (mild obesity), 35-39.9 (moderate obesity), and 40 or more (severe obesity).

During a 10 month follow-up after their initial COVID-19 infection, 44 percent of the patients required hospital admission and 1 percent had died.

Moreover, as compared to patients with a normal BMI, those with moderate and severe obesity had a 28 percent and 30 percent higher risk of hospital admission. The need for diagnostic tests to assess different medical problems, compared with patients with normal BMI, was 25 percent and 39 percent higher in patients with moderate and severe obesity.

Obese people were more likely to need diagnostic testing for the heart, lungs, and kidneys, as well as gastrointestinal or hormonal problems, blood abnormalities, and mental health issues following COVID-19.

The findings which were published in the online journal, Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, suggest that obesity’s effects extend beyond worsening infection and influence the long-term symptoms.

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