Weight-loss surgery cuts Covid-19 risk

·2-min read
AGE Fotostock

Patients who undergo bariatric weight-loss surgery significantly cut their risk of developing severe complications after contracting Covid-19, according to a new study.

A Cleveland Clinic study shows that among patients with obesity, the risk of having a severe battle with Covid-19 could be as much as 60 per cent lower if they have already lost a substantial amount of weight.

Obesity weakens the immune system, creates a chronic inflammatory state, and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood clots, and lung conditions, all of which can complicate Covid-19.

However, scientists had yet to establish whether an intervention like bariatric surgery, which includes procedures like a gastric bypass, significantly reduced risks in those who had suffered health problems due to obesity. The new study establishes that these interventions could be key in cutting the risks from coronavirus.

"The research findings show that patients with obesity who achieved substantial and sustained weight loss with bariatric surgery prior to a COVID-19 infection reduced their risk of developing severe illness by 60 percent," said Ali Aminian, M.D., lead author of the study and director of Cleveland Clinic's Bariatric & Metabolic Institute. "Our study provides strong evidence that obesity is a modifiable risk factor for COVID-19 that can be improved through a successful weight-loss intervention."

More than 20,200 adult patients with obesity were involved in the observational study. A group of 5,053 patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or greater who had weight-loss surgery were compared to a control group consisting of more than 15,000 non-surgical patients.

Patients who had bariatric surgery lost 19 per cent more bodyweight than the non-surgical group before 1 March 2020, when the coronavirus arrived in Cleveland.

Although the rate of contracting Covid-19 was similar between the groups, participants in the weight-loss surgery group experienced much better outcomes after contracting Covid-19 compared with those in the non-surgical group. Researchers found that patients with prior weight-loss surgery had a 49 per cent lower risk of hospitalisation, 63 per cent lower risk of needing supplemental oxygen, and 60 per cent lower risk of developing severe Covid-19.

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