Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the United States have identified a group of patients for whom SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection is the most dangerous and most often ends up in hospitalization. According to statistics from severe cases, obesity is a risk factor even for young people. The article is published in the journal Lancet.
A correlation between a high body mass index and the number of young patients under the age of 40-50 requiring intensive care was found by analyzing hospitalizations both at Johns Hopkins University Hospital and other medical facilities. The data show that young people in the hospital with COVID-19 are more likely to be overweight. They were less likely to suffer from other comorbidities, such as hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.
This is due to the fact that people with obesity already have difficulty breathing, which contributes to the severe course of any respiratory infection. With COVID-19, fluid accumulates in the lungs, due to which the patient is forced to reduce the diaphragm more strongly, and excess weight prevents this. Another reason may be that adipose tissue produces a large number of pro-inflammatory cytokine molecules. When infected with coronavirus, this contributes to the cytokine storm, causing systemic organ failure.
Another possible explanation is that fat cells have a large number of ACE2 receptors on their surface, which is a target for coronavirus. There is evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can persist in adipose tissue for a long time, even if the patient no longer has symptoms.