We learned quickly that people who were overweight, obese, or suffering from diabetes were more susceptible to severe COVID-19 symptoms. Now, we're learning more about who is most at risk for long-term complications.
“We found that this health consequence of chronic COVID is more common in patients with moderate and severe obesity,” said Dr. Ali Aminian, Director of the Cleveland Clinic's Bariatric and Metabolic Institute.
Bariatric doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are studying the long-term effects of COVID-19 infections among people with obesity.
When compared to a group of COVID-19 survivors with normal body mass indexes, they found patients with moderate and severe obesity were between 28% and 30% more likely to end up in the hospital after recovering from the initial infection.
They also needed more medical testing to assess their symptoms.
They experienced all sorts of long-term complications from the heart and lungs to digestion and mental health problems.
Past research at the Cleveland Clinic indicated people who had a history of bariatric surgery had less severe COVID-19 infections.
Further research is needed to see if it also leads to less severe long-term symptoms.
“We know that COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective in patients with obesity to decrease the risk of contracting disease,” said Aminian.
The Cleveland Clinic hopes this research will drive home the importance of vaccination among people with obesity, and that that long-term care follow-ups are necessary with COVID-19 survivors.
“We are learning more and more about the long-term consequences of the disease and we still don't know who is more susceptible to have these long-term consequences, but this study was the first study that showed obesity could be a risk factor,” said Aminian.