Substantial Weight Loss Can Reduce Risk of Severe COVID-19 Complications

A Cleveland Clinic study shows patients who have had weight-loss surgery greatly reduced their risk for developing severe complications from COVID-19.

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CLEVELAND – Recent research from Cleveland Clinic shows patients who have lost a substantial amount of weight from bariatric surgery were able to reduce the risk for developing severe COVID-19 complications by 60%.

“In the past two years, we learned that obesity can increase the severity of COVID-19, but we didn’t know if losing weight can be helpful for patients with obesity. That’s why we decided to do this study,” explained Ali Aminian, MD, Director of Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Aminian said obesity can weaken the immune system, create a chronic inflammatory state and increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, blood clots and lung conditions.

The study looked at more than 20,000 patients with obesity. One group had weight-loss surgery and the other did not.

While both contracted COVID-19 at a similar rate, the group who had weight-loss surgery had much better outcomes.

In fact, researchers found that patients who had surgery had a 49% lower risk of hospitalization, 63% lower risk of need for supplemental oxygen and 60% lower risk of developing severe COVID-19.

“The findings of this study should not be interpreted that losing weight can be a replacement for the vaccine or getting the booster. Everybody can get a severe form of COVID-19 and that’s why everybody should follow the public health recommendations, wearing a mask, social distancing and getting vaccine and booster,” noted Dr. Aminian.

He said the data suggests patients who underwent weight-loss surgery were healthier at the time of contracting COVID-19, which led to better clinical outcomes.

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