Tuesday, May 28, 2024
HomeHealth ConditionsCOVID-19Obesity and risk of ICU admission with COVID-19

Obesity and risk of ICU admission with COVID-19

The coronavirus disease began to spread around the world in 2019. COVID-19 is caused by a SARS-CoV-2 infection that affects the respiratory system.1

COVID-19 can cause asymptomatic or severe pneumonia, acute respiratory injury, or acute respiratory distress syndrome. These diseases caused 20% of COVID-19 patients to be hospitalized and under intensive care.1

The World Health Organization reported 3,916,771 deaths out of the 180,492,131 SARS-CoV-2 cases in the world.1

Many risk factors such as age, gender, predisposed diseases, and weight are proven to cause more severe coronavirus symptoms. People who are suffering severe symptoms are usually people who are diabetic, overweight, old, male, or have hypertension and heart disease.1

A study performed by the University of Gothenburg showed that of the 1649 patients with COVID-19, three-quarters of them were overweight men above the age of 18. These patients likely either had a BMI of 30kg/m2 or higher.2

A BMI higher than 30 was linked to a 50% more risk of death. The risk for being under intensive care for longer than 14 days was higher in patients with a BMI above 30 with COVID-19.2

Patients who had to be under intensive care with COVID-19 were obese and had high BMIs. There is a higher risk for hospitalization, use of a ventilator, or even death for obese patients that contracted COVID-19.1,2

There are many factors that are linked to prolonged hospitalization and intensive care of adults. Prolonged hospitalization has led to hospitals experiencing excess strain due to the ICU bed shortages.1

A study done in Sweden concluded that the risk of severe COVID-19 increases with obesity in individuals that are younger than 56. The effects of severe COVID-19 are not yet fully known in obese patients, but studies show that it may affect immune responses, and heart or lung function.1

The limitations of this study included no data about patients who smoke, no data on socioeconomic factors, and no data from most recent COVID-19 waves.1


1. Sjögren, L., Stenberg, E., Thuccani, M., Martikainen, J., Rylander, C., Wallenius, V., Olbers, T., & Kindblom, J. M. (2021, October 13). Impact of obesity on intensive care outcomes in patients with COVID-19 in Sweden-A cohort study. PLOS ONE. Retrieved October 22, 2021, from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0257891#sec015.

2. Uniofgothenburg. (2021, October 13). Obesity in four out of ten adults with covid-19 in intensive care. EurekAlert! Retrieved October 22, 2021, from https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/931530.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 



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