Obesity, metabolic syndrome tied to risk and severity of COVID-19 infection

Aug. 27, 2020

New research describes the link between obesity and elevated risk of COVID-19 infection and poor outcomes, according to a news report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.

Published in Diabetes Care, study findings show that predominantly black hospitalized COVID-19 patients with metabolic syndrome (a combination of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and/or abnormal cholesterol levels that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease) were nearly five times more likely than their peers to require intensive care and a ventilator or experience respiratory distress and 3.4 times more likely to die from their infections.

The more of the metabolic syndrome diagnoses patients had, the worse their prognosis. While patients who had only one of the diagnoses were not more likely than their peers to die, obesity and diabetes were tied to increased likelihood of needing intensive care and a ventilator. High blood pressure alone was not linked to any adverse outcome.

The researchers monitored 287 coronavirus patients hospitalized at two New Orleans hospitals from March 30 to April 5, which coincided with the pandemic peak in that city. Of the 287 patients, 188 (66 percent) had metabolic syndrome. Compared with their peers, a higher rate of patients with metabolic syndrome required care in an intensive care unit (ICU) (56 percent vs 24 percent), needed a ventilator (48 percent vs 18 percent), developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (37 percent vs 11 percent), and died (26 percent vs 10 percent).

Visit CIDRAP for more news