Obesity Plus Swine Flu Equals Danger
Reuters reports that according to an analysis of H1N1 cases in California released on Tuesday, swine flu can cause severe disease in people of all ages and appears to pose a special threat to those who are obese.
“What our study shows was that once you were hospitalized, if you were elderly you have a higher risk of dying,” Dr. Janice Louie of the California Department of Public Health in Richmond, whose study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“One of the perceptions we’ve been trying to dispel is that this is a mild disease,” she said in a telephone interview. “This can be very severe. In this paper, 30 percent of patients required intensive care.”
Reuters stated the following:
Overall, 11 percent of people who were hospitalized died, but among people 50 and older, 18 to 20 percent died.
The most common causes of death were viral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
As with other studies, obesity appeared to play a significant role in the severity of disease.
In the 268 cases of adults over 20 whose weight was known, 58 percent were obese, with a body mass index of over 30, and of these, 67 percent were morbidly obese, with a BMI of over 40.
BMI is equal to weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. A person 5 feet 5 inches tall becomes obese at 180 pounds (82 kg).
“There definitely is something that is standing out as far as the obesity issue,” Louie said.
“We certainly don’t see the same thing with seasonal flu.”