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Obesity Biggest Risk for COVID-19 Pneumonia, After Age, Male Sex

In a large international study of patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) with COVID-19, the likelihood of having severe pneumonia (ie, needing invasive mechanical ventilation) increased stepwise with increasing body mass index (BMI) — independent of diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, or current smoking.

The main finding was a linear correlation between BMI and need for invasive mechanical ventilation, after adjustment for center, age, sex, and other prespecified metabolic risk factors.

Risk was "highest for older people and males, but the next most important risk factor to developing severe pneumonia if infected [was] obesity," said François Pattou, MD, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Lille, France, who presented the findings at the ObesityWeek 2020 virtual meeting. The results were also recently published in a preprint article in The Lancet.

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