Obesity May Increase Potential for Surviving Sepsis
I should think that any one of us would be hard pressed to find a doctor who would recommend obesity as a solution to a health problem. Obesity just isn't getting good press these days. As a matter of fact, the overwhelming majority would be stunned if doctors were to suggest piling up the pounds and inviting heart attack, diabetes, and cancer into their lives. You can rest assured that doctors are not doing any such thing.
Having said that, in the you don't say-no kidding-well I'll be darned-news cycle there is a bit of interesting information regarding obesity as useful. Well then, you don't say, no kidding, and I'll be darned.
Doctors from the University of Michigan Health System have found that the heavier a patient is the more likely he or she is to survive the life-threatening bloodstream infection sepsis.
Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening illness associated with an infection that is usually caused by bacteria. Symptoms of sepsis include elevated heart rate, high body temperature, increased respiratory rate, and abnormal white blood cell count. The condition is often referred to as blood poisoning.
Sepsis patients need to be hospitalized and treated with appropriate antibiotics, usually two or three at the same time. The prognosis with sepsis is related to the severity of the condition and the health of the patient being treated.
Patients with sepsis and ongoing signs of organ failure at diagnosis have a 15-30 percent chance of death. Those with severe sepsis have a death rate of about 40-60 percent, and newborns and pediatric patients have a mortality rate of 9-36 percent.
Complications from sepsis include lung infection and septic shock related to limb infection. Limb infection could require amputation.
Sepsis rates have doubled in the last 15 years at a cost of more than $16 billion dollars per year, or four times the cost of hospitalizations for heart attacks. One million annual hospitalizations are for Medicare beneficiaries. Half of those who are hospitalized die, and many survivors require time in centers for rehabilitation.
The Obesity Factor
A study of 1,404 beneficiaries found that heavier patients were more likely to survive the infection. The study showed that obese sepsis patients had a lower mortality rate than normal weight patients, raising questions as to how obesity might affect the way the body responds to infection.
While the health benefits of maintaining a normal weight are indisputable, the finding from the study suggest that excess weight might cause the body to respond differently when confronted with critical illness.
Researchers were of course surprised by the results. The study was able to show an association between obesity and a lower mortality rate from sepsis, but obesity cannot be determined a cause.
The purpose of the study was to explore the association between body mass index and survival, use of health care, and functional deficiencies after hospitalization for sepsis.
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