Covid-19 and Obesity

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February 3, 2021
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February 17, 2021

Most critically ill patients are obese!

DATE: February 2021
AUTHOR: Rui Madeira | Health

Due to the great importance of this theme, RM Trainer decided to share an article in the newspaper O Expresso, which argues that regardless of the vacancies and fluctuations in hospital beds, there is a pattern that remains unchanged and that stands out: always constant presence of obese patients among the most serious cases.

In some of the main country hospitals, 60% to 80% of those hospitalized in the most serious condition are overweight. Obesity is one of the factors that most increases the risk of death from covid-19.

In the country's main hospitals, the majority of patients with covid-19 admitted to intensive care units are overweight. In Santa Maria (Lisbon), obese people make up about 50% of critical cases, while in São João (Porto) they reach 60% and in São Francisco Xavier (Lisbon) they even reach 80%.

“These patients have a worse prognosis because there are previous associated diseases. People forget that obesity is, in itself, a disease”, warns Luís Bento, director of Intensive Care Medicine at CHULC.

A more fragile immune system, the existence of metabolic disorders often associated with diabetes and hypertension, more prevalent among obese people, are the causes that worsen the prognosis. And treatment is also hampered: these patients are more difficult to ventilate and to be positioned in the prone position (belly down).

At Hospital de São José - one of the five that are part of CHULC, together with Curry Cabral, Capuchos, Dona Estefânia, Maternidade Alfredo da Costa and Santa Marta - about 80% of overweight patients admitted to intensive care had to be mechanically ventilated and submitted to ECMO, the equipment that replaces the functioning of the lungs and heart, applied only to the most critical cases; 16.3% ended up dying. Although the average age was 62.3 years old, an obese young man of 18. In the most severe case, the patient weighed 160 kg.

In the United States, where more than 271,000 people died during the pandemic and where obesity affects 43% of the population, several studies have already been published that conclude that the risk of death from covid-19 increases as the body mass index rises. (BMI, indicator that is calculated by dividing weight by height).

Given these figures, and with the usual absence of obese among participants in clinical trials of new drugs or therapies, the effectiveness of drugs and vaccines for covid-19, currently under development, is already being questioned in people with very high weight.

Still, in the United Kingdom, where one in eight adults is considered to be morbidly obese (with a BMI over 40), the authorities consider the possibility of giving priority to vaccination for overweight people.

In Portugal, the vaccination plan does not provide for it.

Knowing that this pandemic topic is heavy and already tires the vast majority of people, RM Trainer did not, however, want to stop sharing these numbers in an attempt to raise awareness once again of the importance of fighting the other pandemic, the Obesity!

Undoubtedly, the better our physical condition, the more and better weapons we will have to fight the disease, whatever it may be.

Look for a qualified professional to help you, take care of your health and escape these statistics!