Major weight loss may help with outcomes of COVID-19

WALLISVILLE, Texas – Karla Anderson from Wallisville in Chambers County said her husband suffered from a bad case of COVID that landed him in the hospital and, even though she also tested positive, she hardly noticed.

She credits her weight loss surgery as the reason she was healthy enough to fight the disease.

“I think that helped with me not getting as a severe case plus me being active,” Anderson said.

Despite recommendations to postpone elective procedures at some points during the pandemic, weight loss surgeon Dr. Tanya Kajese with UTHealth Houston and Memorial Hermann said that’s actually been the motivation for a lot more patients to proceed with bariatric surgery because they’re at risk for severe disease.

“If you develop COVID, and you’re struggling with obesity, you already have some level of immunocompromised, and then in addition to that the inflammation that’s caused by fat cells for people who struggle with more of those fat cells with obesity, it’s basically like a double hit,” Dr. Kajese said.

Being overweight is a risk factor for COVID complications and there’s new research to indicate why those patients tend to suffer more.

“New research is coming out right now and it’s actually showing that this COVID-19 virus attacks fat cells directly, and so people that have obesity that might have more fat cells in their body are just more prone to having a more viral load because of that,” Kajese explained. “Then, once the COVID-19 virus-cell has infected the fat cells, of course, this ends up causing more issues with end-stage renal disease, heart disease, lung problems and that’s why people with obesity are so much more sicker when they get COVID-19.”

For Anderson, the surgery has improved her health. Plus, her entire transformation, not just the weight loss, has been remarkable.

“The fatigue, anxiety, things like that, that you don’t really associate with being overweight,” Anderson said are aspects of her life that have improved.

Research also indicates bariatric surgery can also lower your risk of fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, heart attacks, stroke, anxiety, and depression.