Obese, diabetics over 3 times more likely to die of Covid: Study

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COVID-19 patients hospitalised with high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes were over three times more likely to die from the viral disease, say researchers.

The study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, looked at the impact of metabolic syndrome on outcomes for COVID-19 patients.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of at least three of five conditions — hypertension, high blood sugar, obesity, high triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol — that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Together, obesity, diabetes, and pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol levels are all predictive of higher incidents of death in these patients,” said the study lead author Joshua Denson from the Tulane University in the US.

“The more of these diagnoses that you have, the worse the outcomes. The underlying inflammation that is seen with metabolic syndrome may be the driver that is leading to these more severe cases,” Denson added.

Researchers followed the outcomes for 287 patients hospitalised for Covid-19 from March 30 to April 5, which was the peak of the pandemic in New Orleans.

The mean age was 61 years and almost 57 per cent were women. The most common conditions were hypertension (80 per cent), obesity (65 per cent), diabetes (54 per cent), and low HDL (39 per cent).

The research team looked at two groups — those diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and those who weren’t.

They tracked the outcomes including if patients were admitted to an intensive care unit, placed on a ventilator, developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), or died from the disease.

Almost 66 per cent of the patients in the study had metabolic syndrome.

When these cases were compared with patients without the condition, 56 per cent vs 24 per cent required the ICU, 48 per cent vs 18 per cent required ventilator support, 37 per cent vs 11 per cent developed ARDS, and 26 per cent vs 10 per cent died.

Importantly, after accounting for age, sex, race, hospital location, and other conditions, the patients with metabolic syndrome were 3.4 times more likely to die from COvid-19 than those who didn’t have the condition.

These patients were also nearly five times more likely to be admitted to ICUs, needed ventilator support, or developed ARDS.

“Metabolic syndrome should be considered a composite predictor of Covid-19 lethal outcome, increasing the odds of mortality by the combined effects of its individual components,” Denson said.

Recently, a study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology, also found that the risk of greater Covid-19 severity and death is higher in people with any obese body mass index (BMI).