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What you need to know about COVID-19 and obesity

May 21, 2021

Obesity is linked to a number of health risks, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. Experts are also finding that obesity is linked to severe COVID-19 complications and hospitalizations. A majority of patients that have been hospitalized, on a ventilator, or died due to COVID fell into the overweight or obese weight range. That’s why doctors and experts are recommending that individuals with obesity get the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible or pursue a weight-loss option, like bariatric surgery, to reach a normal weight.

Obesity risk factors linked to COVID-19

Obesity is prevalent in the United States, and the number is on the rise. This could be one of the reasons the rate of COVID cases is so high in the United States compared to other countries. According to Dr. Jay Sizemore of the Erlanger Hospital infectious disease unit, an individual with obesity is more likely to experience “immune dysregulation.” This means that their immune systems may not work as effectively as individuals that fall into a healthier weight range. Additionally, their lung capacity may be limited, which means that they may be more likely to have to be put on a ventilator if they contract COVID. The virus enters the cells in the body and replicates. It enters the cells via a receptor called ACE2. There are more of these type of receptors in fat cells. According to Dr. Jaime Ponce, Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at CHI Memorial, “They [individuals with obesity] have more of these receptors so the virus has the ability to get in to replicate and stay there more times.”

Preventing COVID-19

Individuals with obesity should get their COVID vaccinations as soon as possible to limit their chance of contracting the disease or from being hospitalized by the disease. While individuals wait to receive the vaccine, there are a few other things they can do to protect themselves in addition to social distancing. Enjoying healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, safely exercising regularly, getting enough sleep each night, and managing stress effectively will help keep your body healthy.

However, healthy lifestyle changes combined with weight-loss surgery produce the best results. While many hospitals have put off elective surgeries, there are weight-loss procedures, such as laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, that can be safely performed at an ambulatory (non-hospital) surgery center. So, while waiting for a lifesaving shot, people who are 30 – 60 pounds overweight have a proven solution available right now.

If you are ready to take control of your weight loss, the Lap-Band® Program may be the next step for you.

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Important Lap-Band® System Safety Information

The Lap-Band System is indicated for weight reduction for patients with obesity, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 40 kg/m2 or a BMI of at least 30 kg/m2 with one or more obesity-related comorbid conditions. It is indicated for use only in adult patients who have failed more conservative weight reduction alternatives, such as supervised diet, exercise and behavior modification programs. Patients who elect to have this surgery must make the commitment to accept significant changes in their eating habits for the rest of their lives.

The Lap-Band System is not recommended for non-adult patients (patients under 18 years of age), patients with conditions that may make them poor surgical candidates or increase the risk of poor results, who are unwilling or unable to comply with the required dietary restrictions, or who currently are or may be pregnant.

The Lap-Band System is a long-term implant. Explant and replacement surgery may be required. Patients who become pregnant or severely ill, or who require more extensive nutrition may require deflation of their bands. Anti-inflammatory agents, such as aspirin, should be used with caution and may contribute to an increased risk of band erosion.

Placement of the Lap-Band System is major surgery and, as with any surgery, death can occur. Possible complications include the risks associated with the medications and methods used during surgery, the risks associated with any surgical procedure, and the patient’s ability to tolerate a foreign object implanted in the body. Most common related adverse events include: Band slippage, pouch dilation, stoma obstruction, gastroesophageal reflux, esophageal dilation, cholelithiasis, incisional infection, abdominal pain, gastroenteritis, or nausea and vomiting may occur. Reoperation may be required. Rapid weight loss may result in complications that may require additional surgery. Deflation of the band may alleviate excessively rapid weight loss or esophageal dilation.

Important: For full safety information please click here or talk with your doctor.