Obesity puts you at greater risk of serious illness from Covid-19

Being obese puts you at greater risk of becoming seriously ill with covid-19

Anne Dixon, a Vermont pulmonologist, vividly recalls the early days of the covid-19 pandemic, especially the traumatic death of a patient.

“We had a patient who was very young, he was obese and died of covid-19. He was very devastating,” said the Dr. Dixonprofessor at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

It was a warning sign that the pandemic was going to be worse for people living with obesity and ever since Education have shown that obesity is associated with an increased risk of severe covid-19. The term severe covid-19 refers to cases that require hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, and use of a ventilator. People living with obesity are also at higher risk of covid-19-related death.

Even here in Vermont, which is a state with relatively thin people compared to many others, we’ve seen people with obesity enter and die in our ICUs,” said Dr. Dixon, who researches the effect of obesity on the health of lungs.”We analyzed our data and found that people who were admitted to our intensive care unit were much more likely to (be obese) than people who were admitted to only the regular medical care plan.”

More than 1.1 million people People have died from the covid-19 pandemic in the US since 2020 and although the declaration of a public health emergency has ended, covid-19 is still dangerous for many people, including those living with obesity.

Watch: Ask an Expert: Covid-19 and Obesity >>

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a disease in which too much body fat causes body mass index (BMI) be 30 or older. Conversely, people in a “healthy weight range” generally have a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.

In 1990, about 1 in 10 American adults were obese. At the moment, 4 out of 10 adults They live with obesity. A study esteem that by 2030, half of American adults will be obese.

“It could be your mother, your sister, your brother, your daughter, the incidence is very high in our country,” he said. Loretta Lee, PhD, RNCo-Chair of the Nurse’s Obesity Network and Associate Professor of Family, Community, and Medical Systems at the University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Nursing.

How obesity puts people at risk of becoming seriously ill from covid-19

Obesity can have adverse effects on nearly every system in the body, from the cardiovascular (heart) and endocrine (hormones) systems to mental health.

“If a person is diagnosed with obesity, virtually any chronic condition they have is likely to get worse because obesity is associated with impaired immune function,” said Dr. Lee. “It’s why people with obesity suffer worse from covid-19 than people who don’t live with obesity.”

People living with obesity are more likely to have other diseases, such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, which, in turn, are risk factors for serious complications from covid-19. Also, people with obesity are more likely to have a lower lung capacity, which puts them at risk for respiratory diseases and more serious conditions. For example, obese people are hospitalized for asthma-related complications. 5 times more than people who are not obese.

“If your lungs are already at risk and then your immune system starts to go haywire, the combined effects can be absolutely disastrous,” Dr. Dixon said.

The covid-19 attacks the pulmonary endothelium. Although most people have mild symptoms of covid-19, people with obesity often have a more severe reaction to the virus, causing serious consequences such as organ damage, mental and physical disabilities, and persistent covid-19 caused by inflammation for long periods of time, Dr. Lee said.

AND study A recent study from Stanford University established that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19, attacks adipose tissue. The virus reproduces by copying itself in fat cells and causes further infections in other cells. Adipose tissue contains macrophages, immune cells that alert the body to threats and attack them. When the virus infects these immune cells, they become inflamed and cause other nearby cells to become inflamed as well.

Catherine Blish, MD, Ph.D., co-author of this study and professor of infectious diseases at Stanford University, explained that macrophages secrete proteins that signal to other cells that a threat exists. Those cells then attract other inflammatory cells.

Why is this a problem for people with obesity? One theory suggests that people with obesity have more fat tissue and are therefore more susceptible to the spread of covid-19-induced inflammation, although this has not been proven. But, Dr. Blish says we know that the fat tissue of people with obesity already has extra inflammation to begin with, so the inflammatory reaction to the virus could be more severe than for people who aren’t obese.

“Adipose tissue also lines many of our vital organs, such as the heart and stomach. Having inflamed fat right next to the heart is not exactly an ideal situation,” said Dr. Blish.

How to take care of covid-19 if you live with obesity

Covid-19 is still a real threat to people with obesity. Wearing a mask when you go out can reduce the chances of contracting the virus.

But a much better form of protection is the vaccine. Getting vaccinated can reduce your chances of becoming seriously infected with COVID-19, being hospitalized, or dying from the disease.

“I would definitely recommend that people with obesity get vaccinated against covid-19. This is our best defense,” said Dr. Dixon.

If your immune system is compromised, you may consider additional doses of the vaccine for added protection. You should also make sure you act quickly if you have symptoms or have tested positive for covid-19. Call your doctor right away and ask if you’re a good candidate for treatment.

Also make sure you are up to date when it comes to latest CDC guidelines regarding covid-19 vaccines and to talk to your doctor about your personal situation.

“In addition to getting vaccinated, try to have a healthy lifestyle,” recommended Dr. Lee. This includes adding more fresh vegetables to your diet, cutting down on processed foods, and making exercise part of your daily routine. While lifestyle may not be the cause of obesity or a quick fix, healthier choices, along with getting a vaccine, can help prevent the consequences of covid-19 from worsening.

If you live with obesity and think you may have covid-19, contact your doctor right away.

This resource was prepared with assistance from Pfizer.

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