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Obesity And Heart Disease: Risk Factors For COVID-19

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COVID-19 caused by the SARS CoV-2 virus has gripped the entire world and many COVID-19 deaths have been reported. Globally, every nation is fighting the pandemic on a war footing. The COVID-19 cases in India are rising at a faster rate during the second wave of COVID-19. The infection manifests through several symptoms and debilitating after-effects. Fatigue is the most common symptom and an after-effect experienced by most COVID-19 patients post-recovery. 

Several studies have shown a strong relationship between people with obesity, heart health and COVID-19. Obese people are more vulnerable to the COVID-19 infection. Furthermore, they face a wide range of complications arising from the infections due to their excess weight. Similarly, people with poor heart health are more susceptible to COVID -19. This disease affects heart health, leading to inflammation and even a heart attack.

The link between COVID-19 and obesity

The prevalence of people with obesity is almost 20% in most countries around the globe. Researchers have reported that people who are obese are thrice more likely to be hospitalised due to the COVID-19 infection than patients with normal weight. Here are a few points that help establish a link between obesity and COVID-19.

  • Studies indicate that people with obesity are already at a higher risk of several health conditions, such as hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes. This makes them particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 infection.
  • Additionally, reduced immunity, circulation of inflammatory markers and more fatty tissue assist the entry of the virus into the system. It also makes obese people vulnerable to a higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 infection.
  • Transporting a patient with obesity, taking him/her for imaging studies and putting them on a ventilator is challenging due to the excess body weight and limited weight-bearing capacity of machines.
  • The impact of the COVID-19 infection and the severity of symptoms is much greater in people with obesity. This may be attributed to compromised lung function that lowers the oxygen saturation capacity in people with obesity.
  • People with obesity often suffer from blood coagulation problems, increasing their risk of complications related to blood clotting due to COVID-19.
  • The thick adipose tissue in people with obesity is another concern in COVID-19 infections. The dysfunctional adipose tissue is often associated with other comorbidities such as high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disorders. These comorbidities can worsen if such a person gets infected with the coronavirus.

When the infection is transmitting at higher rates during the second wave, more people with obesity are being affected. However, only a few of them required invasive ventilation and a few deaths have been reported.

The link between COVID-19 and heart health

Researchers have suggested a significant relationship between heart health and COVID-19 infection. Here are a few findings:

  • Long-standing heart conditions, such as heart failure, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and specific cardiomyopathies, make you more susceptible to developing a  lung infection.
  • Compared to a healthy person, people with heart disorders that result in weak or damaged heart muscles or blockages in their arteries harm the body’s capacity to survive the COVID-19 infection. It is more likely that such people may have high chances of mortality due to low oxygen capacity. Obese people also show unstable blood pressure and blood clotting disorders, which are the COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Another critical effect of COVID-19 is a poor metabolic condition and increased inflammation. These issues, combined with blood clotting problems in people with heart disease, are more likely to cause complications due to the infection.
  • Some more studies indicate a profound effect on the heart health of people post-COVID-19 recovery. Many people reportedly have suffered from heart inflammation and damage after recovering from the COVID-19 infection. This may be due to the lack of oxygen during the COVID -19 infection that exerted more pressure on the heart.

Tips for maintaining good physical health

During recent times of pandemic, it is essential to follow good health practices.  People with obesity and comorbidities need to be more cautious to avoid contracting the infection. Here are a few tips for a healthy routine:

  • Stay physically active:
    • Chart a routine exercise plan and give a structure to your daily workout. You may take online exercise classes during the lockdown to stay fit.
    • Make walking a part of your routine. If you are going out for a walk, maintain physical distance from people.
    • Start gradually with exercises. Stretch to strengthen your muscles.
    • Reduce your sitting time. Get active. Stand more often and take breaks from work.
    • Perform domestic works like cleaning and gardening.
    • Include deep breathing and relaxation in your activity routine.
  • Stay hydrated:
    • Drink plenty of warm water.
    • Do not include sweetened beverages in your food list.
  • Eat healthy food:
    • Limit your sugar, salt and fat intake.
    • Prefer consuming whole grains over refined flours.
    • Eat fresh vegetables and fruits.
    • Consume home-cooked food.
    • Eat a balanced diet that gives you adequate vitamins, minerals and proteins to boost your immunity.
    • Sip some green tea. Some scientific evidence shows that the phytoconstituents from green tea have antiviral activity. It also boosts immunity.

Conclusion

With the high transmission rate of the COVID -19 infection, you need to be careful and follow every safety precaution to avoid infection. Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others. You are highly susceptible to the COVID-19 infection if you have heart disease, obesity or other comorbidities. In such cases, you need to be very cautious. It is best to talk to your doctor regarding the necessary safety precautions.

Get enough sleep, stay active and eat healthy food. Never miss your medications and keep your comorbidities under control. Discuss with your doctor regarding vaccination. Get your vaccine when your turn comes. Do not forget to follow respiratory hygiene/cough etiquettes when you step outside for immunization in a public place.

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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