Successful weight-loss surgery before the infection is associated with a 60% lower risk of severe disease in patients with obesity, according to new study from Cleveland Clinic.
A study by the Cleveland Clinic found that people who had bariatric surgery to lose weight had a 60% lower risk of having severe complications from COVID-19 infection.
The findings were reported in the JAMA Surgery journal.
Many studies have found that being overweight is a huge risk factor for getting sick from SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19. Obesity impairs the immune system, causes chronic inflammation, and raises the risk of heart disease, blood clots, and lung disease. COVID-19 can be complicated by any of these factors.
The goal of this trial was to see if a successful weight-loss strategy in obese patients before contracting COVID-19 could minimize the probability of a severe version of the disease.
“The research findings show that patients with obesity who achieved substantial and sustained weight loss with bariatric surgery prior to a COVID-19 infection reduced their risk of developing severe illness by 60 percent,” lead author of the study Dr. Ali Aminian saidM.D.
“Our study provides strong evidence that obesity is a modifiable risk factor for COVID-19 that can be improved through a successful weight-loss intervention.”
This observational study included a total of 20,212 adult patients who were diagnosed with obesity.
Between 2004 and 2017, a group of 5,053 patients with a BMI of 35 or above who had weight-loss surgery were rigorously matched 1:3 to non-surgical patients, resulting in 15,159 control subjects.
Prior to March 1, 2020, patients who had bariatric surgery lost 19 percent more body weight than those in the non-surgical category (the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Cleveland).
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, researchers examined four COVID-19-related outcomes: the rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection, hospitalization, the need for supplementary oxygen, and severe disease (defined as a combination of ICU admission, need for mechanical ventilation or death).
Although both groups had similar rates of getting SARS-CoV-2 (9.1 percent in the surgical group and 8.7 percent in the non-surgical group), participants in the weight-loss surgery group had considerably better results after contracting COVID-19 than those in the non-surgical group.
The team discovered that patients who had previously undergone weight loss surgery had a 49 percent lower risk of hospitalization, 63 percent lower risk of need for supplemental oxygen, and 60 percent lower risk of developing severe COVID-19.
Although the exact causes are unknown, these findings suggest that individuals who had weight-loss surgery were healthier when they contracted SARS-CoV-2, which resulted in improved clinical results.
“Striking findings from the current study support the reversibility of the health consequences of obesity in the patients with COVID-19,” added the study’s senior author, Steven Nissen.
“This study suggests that an emphasis on weight loss as a public health strategy can improve outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks or related infectious diseases. That is a very important finding considering that 40% of Americans have obesity.”
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