Bariatric Surgery in Obese Patients May Reduce Covid-19 Severity

At the Cleveland Clinic, previously a study showed that weight-loss surgery was associated with a 40 % reduction in mortality risk and heart complications in obese diabetic patients.

In their new study published in the journal of Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases, it was shown that in obese diabetic patients, who had tested positive for Covid-19, having previous history of bariatric surgery was significantly associated with a lower risk of hospital and intensive care unit admission.

Obesity is a serious and complex disorder that is manifested by multiple risk factors weakening the immune system., resulting in chronic inflammatory state that causes the excessive production of inflammatory cytokines, a small group of proteins responsible for regulating immune response.

Globally, in past months, accumulating research evidence indicates that obesity is one of the predominant risk factors that exacerbate the Covid-19 diseases resulting in development of severe infection which may require hospital admission, need for intensive care and use of ventilator support.

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was reported that over 70% of U.S. adults are either overweight or have obesity, which is believed that may substantially increase the risk of severe illness from the coronavirus.

Additionally, obesity is also found to elevate the risk of hypertension, diabetes, kidney diseases, risk for cardiovascular disease, and blood clot formation. Altogether, these serious conditions can lead to poor health outcomes after a person gets infected with the SARS-CoV-2, virus that causes Covid-19.

In previous reports, it was found that overweight and particularly obesity may have badly affected the respiratory system, resulting in difficult breathing. Many obese patients have underlying lung conditions, such as sleep apnea and obesity hypoventilation syndrome. These conditions in obese patients aggravates the health outcomes of Covid-19 pneumonia.

Source: Canadian Institute of Health Information

According to Ali Aminian, M.D., Director of the Bariatric & Metabolic Institute at Cleveland Clinic and principal investigator of the research, he believes that the infection with the Covid-19 abnormally amplifies the cytokine levels, resulting in cytokine storm, which consequently damages the organs.

This overly active immune response partly exacerbates the diseases severity. Dr. Aminian’s study substantially provides additional research evidence of potential link between the obesity and poor outcomes from coronavirus infection in obese patients who tested positive.

Co-author Steven Nissen, M.D., Chief Academic Officer of the Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute at Cleveland Clinic, said, that for the first time, until now, the study shows that substantial weight loss via bariatric surgery may actually reduce the risk from severe illness in these patients.

The study was a matched cohort study, studied 4,365 patients who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 between March 8, 2020 and July 22, 2020. From these patients, they found that 33 patients’ previous history of weight-loss surgery, including 20 patients had a sleeve gastrectomy and 13 patients had a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.

This matched cohort study of 363 patients uncovered that maintained weight loss and improved diabetes as well as hypertension in the bariatric surgical group prior to contracting the virus was significantly linked with the lower hospital and ICU admission rates.

“Patients after bariatric surgery become significantly healthier and can fight the virus better,” adds Dr. Aminian

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