Obesity increases the risk of dying from a coronavirus by almost 40%, according to a major study of data collected from NHS hospitals.
Research, based on 17,000 COVID-19 admissions, found that overall, a third of Britons hospitalized with the deadly virus are dying.
Mortality rates were 37% higher in obese patients, just behind dementia (39%) but more than heart disease (31%).
Heart disease has also been shown to be the most common underlying health condition in patients with coronavirus hospitalized for the infection.
The study, considered the largest of its kind in Europe, found that more than half (53%) of the patients had at least one comorbidity.
Almost a third (29%) suffered from heart disease – conditions that block blood vessels and make it difficult for the body to pump blood and oxygen.
Almost a fifth (19%) were diabetic, the same number suffered from lung disease, 15% suffered from kidney disease and 14% were asthmatic.
Curiously, less than 10% of hospital admissions were smokers – more than a third less than the national rate of 14.4%.
This is the latest in a growing series of studies suggesting that cigarette users may have a lower risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.
Researchers are struggling to reverse an apparent protective effect given by cigarettes, which they described as “strange”.
Researchers analyzing nearly 17,000 COVID-19 admissions found that more than half (53%) had at least one comorbidity. The most common were heart disease (29%), diabetes (19%), lung disease (19%), kidney disease (15%) and asthma (14%)
Curiously, less than 10% of hospital admissions were smokers – more than a third less than the national rate of 14.4% (stock image)
A third of coronavirus patients admitted to NHS hospitals die from the disease, shows the largest COVID-19 study in Europe
Researchers who analyzed nearly 17,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the UK found that 49% of them had been discharged
The International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infections (ISARIC) report also found that 17% of patients admitted to hospital are still receiving care.
The dark realities of the crisis were exposed in a report by the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infections (ISARIC).
It was produced by a team of leading British infectious disease scientists who are part of the world’s pandemic planning agency.
The research looked at 16,749 hospital admissions between February 6 and April 18 in hospitals in England, Scotland and Wales.
Although COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that mainly affects the lungs, the body is under enormous stress while trying to fight back.
Those with underlying conditions “have less of a safety net” to deal with the demands, said Professor Naveed Sattar, honorary consultant in cardiovascular and medical sciences.
He told MailOnline, “If you are in good health, your buffering capacity is good. The rest of your body can cope with stress.
WHAT IS AN ACE-2 RECEIVER AND WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH COVID-19?
ACE-2 receptors are structures on the surface of cells in the lungs and airways that work with an enzyme called ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) to regulate blood pressure.
Its exact function in the lungs is not well understood, but studies suggest that it protects against lung damage and that its low levels can worsen the impact of viral infections.
Scientists say the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 enters the body through the ACE-2 receptor, to which its shape allows it to cling.
This means that a person with more ACE-2 receptors may be more sensitive to a large viral load – the first infectious dose of a virus – entering their bloodstream.
ACE-2 receptors have a shape that matches the outside of the coronavirus, effectively providing it with a gateway into the bloodstream, scientists say.
People who have a higher number of ACE-2 receptors than usual can include those with diabetes or high blood pressure because they have genetic defects that make them more productive. New evidence shows that smokers can also produce more.
However, high levels of ACE-2 receptors can also be protective.
They are thought to be able to protect the lungs during infection, and a 2008 mouse study found that mice that had ACE-2 blocked in their bodies suffered more damage when they got infected. by SARS, which is almost identical to COVID-19.
In the past, smoking has been repeatedly linked to lower than normal ACE-2 receptor levels, which could increase the risk of lung damage from COVID-19.
“But if you have impairments to start with, your systems will fail. “
In many COVID-19 patients, the lungs are unable to receive enough oxygen. This has a ripple effect on other organs.
Professor Sattar of the University of Glasgow explained that the heart is under a lot of pressure to try to pump oxygenated blood through the body, including to the brain.
General practitioner and clinical professor Dr. Hajira Dambha-Miller said that people with hypertension are less able to circulate because their vessels are narrower.
Not only does this slow the oxygen route to the organs, but it also means that immune cells in the blood are unable to reach the virus as quickly as necessary.
“If you have diabetes,” she said, “you have high sugar and your blood becomes like molasses.
“Physically, it is more difficult for the immune system to access the virus. Viruses do a lot of damage before the immune system even realizes it.
“When the body goes into action, it does not function as it should. The immune cells are damaged because they have been saturated with sugar for years and are not working as they should.
The ISARIC study is the last to suggest that smokers are less likely to get seriously ill with a coronavirus.
University of London academics reviewed 28 articles and found that the proportions of smokers among hospitalized patients were “lower than expected.”
One study found that in the UK, the proportion of smokers among patients with COVID-19 was only 5%, a third of the national rate of 14.4%.
Another found in France that the rate was four times lower. In China, a study noted that 3.8% of patients were smokers – despite the fact that more than half of the population smoked cigarettes regularly.
Commenting on the question, Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said, “Something weird is happening with smoking and coronaviruses.”
Professor Bauld said the way the virus enters the body could be blocked by the effects of nicotine – the addictive compound found in tobacco.
The coronavirus enters cells inside the body through structures called ACE-2 receptors, which cover the surface of certain cells, including in the airways and lungs.
The number of ACE-2 receptors someone has is thought to vary with genetics, and there is some evidence to suggest that they are higher in smokers.
This could, in theory, expose them to a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.
However, the virus is known to cause damage to the lungs by decreasing the number of ACE-2 receptors, so the fact that smoking increases them could reverse the effect and prevent damage to the lungs.
On the other hand, other studies show that nicotine reduces the action of the ACE-2 receptor, suggesting that smokers are less likely to get the virus in the first place.
Some experts argue that hospitals probably do not correctly record patients’ smoking status, possibly because they are too busy, too sick to answer, or because people lie in their answers.
But for the latest study, smoking was the only co-morbid researchers to have a full set of data to analyze.
The ISARIC study also found that a third of coronavirus patients admitted to NHS hospitals die from the disease and more than half of those on respirators do not survive.
Among those admitted to general service, 33% have died, 49% have been discharged and 17% are still receiving care.
The study found that only one-fifth of British intubated patients returned home alive. Fifty-three percent died while on a ventilator and 27 percent are still connected to machines at the time of writing.
Among those in intensive care, 45% have died from the virus, 31% have returned home after conquering the disease, and just under a quarter are still being treated.