Obesity

Is Extreme Obesity a Potent Risk Factor for Swine Flu Viruses Infection?

Extreme obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) above 40, has been found to be associated with a three-fold risk of death from the H1N1 influenza of 2009.  In fact, a study found that 50 percent of people residing in California above the age of 20 years that were admitted to the hospital with the 2009 H1N1 were found to be obese.

Researchers set out to test the hypothesis that obesity can increase the risk of complications and death from this specific virus. Researchers collected the data of 500 adults hospitalized with the virus in California from April 20 to August 11, 2009.  Patients below the age of 20 years and pregnant women were not included in the study.  According to their results the risk for contracting the virus, experiencing complications and dieing from the virus are certainly higher in those that are extremely obese though more research is needed to understand why these people are more prone to H1N1 and fatal complications.  The detailed results of this study were published in the February 1, 2011 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) is very concerned that obesity makes it so much more difficult to fight off the virus.  Obese people are not able to get an efficient immune response that will fight the infection.  Complications such as multiple organ failure and blood clots in the lungs can occur.  Although experts are not quite sure why the obese are more susceptible, it is known that many obese people have other known underlying conditions that cab put them at a higher risk for contracting the flu and developing fatal complications.  Everyone should be proactive if they experience signs of influenza however for people that are extremely obese it is imperative that they take this very seriously and seek medical attention as soon as any signs appear.  It could mean the difference between life and death.  Experts recommend that obese people get vaccinated annually for the most relevant viruses.

References

H1N1 Higher Education:
http://www.cdc.gov/widgets/H1N1HigherEducation/alt/h1n1news.html

Obesity Is A Risk Factor For Swine Flu:
http://www.wellnessresources.com/weight/articles/obesity_is_a_risk_factor_for_swine_flu/

Intensive-Care Patients With Severe Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Infection — Michigan, June 2009:
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5827a4.htm

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