For months, health experts have cautioned that obese patients are more likely to be hospitalized and need mechanical ventilation if they contract COVID.
Experts say they are 50 percent more likely to die from the virus.
Now, researchers say prior bariatric surgery may reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.
More than 70 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, which health experts say can impair the immune system and increase the risk of serious illness from the coronavirus.
Ali Aminian, MD, director of the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at Cleveland Clinic said, “COVID-19 has been a wake-up call that’s shown the health consequences of obesity.”
Dr. Aminian and his colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic studied 363 COVID-19 patients. Some had a past history of weight loss surgery, others did not have surgery and had a BMI of 40 or more at the time they tested positive for COVID-19.
“We found that, in patients with severe obesity, 42 percent required hospital admission after contracting COVID. However, in a group of patients who had bariatric surgery before, only 18 percent required hospital admission after COVID-19,” explained Dr. Aminian.
Doctors say 13 percent of the patients without surgery were admitted to the ICU, seven percent needed ventilators, and two percent died. None of the patients who had bariatric surgery were admitted to the ICU, none needed ventilators, and none died. Doctors say the results suggest that after weight loss, patients become healthier and are better able to fight the virus.
Dr. Aminian says if the results are confirmed by future studies, doctors can add this to the list of health benefits of bariatric surgery.