(CNN) – Obese patients who contract COVID-19 are 74% more likely to end up in the intensive care unit and 48% are more likely to die.
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta says it’s partly due to how our bodies are built.
“Our diaphragm is one of the major muscles that helps with breathing,” according to Gupta. “Breathe in and the diaphragm contracts and the lungs expand to take in oxygen, but if you’re obese, fat in the abdomen can push on the diaphragm limiting how much air you take in.”
Also, obesity is a precursor to other health conditions like:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Impaired immune system
- Chronic inflammation
- Blood that’s more likely to clot
Add COVID-19 to the mix and the risk goes up even more.
“The cells that line your blood vessels and regulate blood flow, they’re known as endothelial cells and then can become damaged when you’re infected with coronavirus,” Gupta says.
The fat cells themselves may also be more susceptible to coronavirus.
“The virus attaches to cells in our bodies through the ACE2 receptor. That’s a protein that’s on the surface of many cells,” CNN’s chief medical correspondent says. “It turns out that fat tissue has a high level of ACE2 receptors thus acting in some ways like a reservoir for the virus.”
Regardless of your weight, you can reduce your COVID-19 infection risk by wearing a mask, social distancing and washing your hands.