Doctors at several intensive care units report that many COVID-19 patients are overweight and that overweight people are more likely to die of the disease.
At Brussels University Hospital VUB eighty patients have been treated in intensive care so far. “The 13 patients, who died had an average BMI (Body Mass Index) of 33” says Dr Malbrain. “Patients allowed to leave hospital had an average BMI of 27 and the patients still in intensive care have an average BMI of 30.”
“Being overweight makes you more vulnerable and more susceptible to heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Patients arriving in intensive care are given an intravenous infusion. It’s not an innocent bag of water. In people who are overweight we see salt and fluid pile up. Pressure can mount in the stomach pushing their midriff upwards and complicating ventilation”.
Dr Malbrain is worried countries with large populations that are overweight could now pay the price; “In the US 60% of the population is overweight. This will definitely impact on the results if they have to go on a ventilator.”
He also warns against lockdown drinking: “I hear loads of people have started taking an aperitif on Skype: do it in good measure. It’s never too late to start on a good diet.”