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Obesity And Metabolic Syndrome Are Risk Factors For Severe Influenza, COVID-19

Multiple studies have shown that obesity is associated with increased severity of influenza A, higher viral titers in exhaled breath and prolonged transmission of the virus, according to the report published in Journal of Virology

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  • Diabetic COVID-19 patients at higher risk for severe pneumonia: Study
  • Obesity is a risk factor for severe illness caused by SARS-CoV-2: CDC
  • The research paper has been published in the Journal of Virology

Washington D.C.: Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of severe disease from a viral infection, according to a review of the literature performed by a team of researchers from St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, both in Memphis. The research has been published in the Journal of Virology, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of at least 3 co-occurring conditions that raise the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). These conditions include excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, excess blood sugar, abnormalities of lipids (including excess triglycerides and cholesterol), insulin resistance and a pro-inflammatory state.

Multiple studies have shown that obesity is associated with increased severity of influenza A, higher viral titers in exhaled breath and prolonged transmission of the virus, according to the report.

Also Read: COVID-19: 8,800 Booth Level Task Force Committees To Be Set Up In Bengaluru

Changes in the viral population may abet the emergence of more pathogenic influenza variants, according to the report. Despite the fact that influenza vaccines generate robust antibody titers in obese subjects, obesity doubles the likelihood of developing influenza.

As with influenza virus, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recently recognised obesity as a risk factor for severe illness caused by SARS-CoV-2.

This is not surprising because excess body weight and fat deposition apply pressure to the diaphragm, which further increases the difficulty of breathing during a viral infection, the researchers write.

But the risk goes beyond the burden of excess weight. A recent study highlighted in the literature review looked at 174 diabetes patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19. The study found that these patients were at significantly higher risk for severe pneumonia compared to non-diabetic COVID-19 patients. CT scans revealed a greater severity of lung abnormalities in these patients.

There was also a profound increase in serum IL-6 levels, a predictive biomarker for disease severity, the investigators write. These data imply that SARS-CoV-2 causes severe disease in obese patients and in those with T2DM by inducing bilateral pneumonia and a cytokine storm that damages the lung epithelial-endothelial barrier.

Also Read: Strict Precautions Are Needed To Control COVID-19 In Bengaluru: Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai

However, one hypothetical risk for patients with T2DM who have hypertension or heart disease appears not to be a problem, after all, according to the report. These patients are commonly treated with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). These increase expression of ACE2, the receptor that SARS-CoV-2 uses to gain entry into cells.

Clinicians and researchers were initially concerned that ACE inhibitors and ARBs could promote adhesion and entry of SARS-CoV-2 into host cells, thereby increasing the risk of severe COVID-19. Contrary to concerns, multiple studies now suggest that ACE inhibitors and ARBs do not lead to poorer outcomes in COVID-19 infection.

Future research should seek to [determine] how metabolic abnormalities increase viral pathogenesis, as this information will play an essential role in global preparedness against emerging seasonal and pandemic virus strains, the investigators conclude.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: What Is Antibody Test And What Role Does It Play In The Fight Against COVID-19?

ASM is keeping the pulse on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic with the COVID-19 Research Registry of top-ranked research articles curated by experts. In the eye of a pandemic, this curated database will ensure that scientists, journalists and the public have an efficient way to find the timeliest and most valuable SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 research from the latest journal articles and preprints.

The American Society for Microbiology is one of the largest professional societies dedicated to the life sciences and is composed of 30,000 scientists and health practitioners. ASM’s mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences.

ASM advances the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications and educational opportunities. It enhances laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It provides a network for scientists in academia, industry and clinical settings. Additionally, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of the microbial sciences to diverse audiences.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


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