June 8, 2021 – Obesity — an established major risk factor in the development of severe infection or death from COVID-19 infection — also appears to significantly increase the risk of developing long-term complications from the disease, a syndrome often referred to as long-haul COVID-19, according to a new study.
“To our knowledge, this current study for the first time suggests that patients with moderate to severe obesity are at a greater risk of developing long-term complications of COVID-19 beyond the acute phase,” the study’s lead author, Ali Aminian, MD, director of Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric & Metabolic Institute, said in a press statement.
The study included 2,839 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 in the Cleveland Clinic Health System between March and July 2020 who did not require admission to the ICU and survived the initial phase of COVID-19.
The doctors looked for three indicators of possible long-term complications of COVID-19 — hospital admission, death, and need for diagnostic medical tests — that occurred 30 days or more after the first positive viral test for COVID-19
In the 10 months after their initial COVID-19 infection, 44% of the patients required hospital admission and 1% had died.
The risk of hospital admission was 28% higher in those with moderate obesity (BMI 35-39.9) and 30% higher in those with severe obesity (BMI 40 or higher).
The need for diagnostic te