When I was in medical school we had classes to teach us about diseases and risk factors. I remember sitting in class and learning that people who were underweight had higher incidences of poor outcomes than those who were overweight.
It was a little disconcerting to know that people who can’t maintain their weight during illness or stress have worse outcomes. I happen to be one of those people.
As I started my practice and worked with a non-profit that focused on alternative treatments for cancer patients, I was again reminded of this fact.
I learned that those patients that were not able to maintain their weight or continued to lose weight during treatment had higher chances of death. At the time this was anecdotal from my practice and there were a few studies that confirmed my observations.
This week the University of Virginia published a study in which approximately 190,000 patients participated in many different surgeries at 183 hospitals that looked at BMI and deaths 30 days after surgeries.
The BMI for underweight people is considered 18.5 or below. People between 18.5 to 24.9 are considered normal weight while people from 25.0 to 29.9 are considered overweight. People with BMIs above 30.0 are considered obese.
In the study, the patients' BMI was divided into five categories. The lowest category of BMI included people who were normal weight and underweight. This category included anyone who had a BMI of less than 23.1. The researchers found that people who had a BMI of less than 23.1 had a 40 percent increase in risk of death 30 days after surgeries.
Why am I sharing what seems like depressing news for people who are normal weight and underweight facing a serious illness? I share this to give suggestions on how to take care of yourself if you find yourself having to prepare for surgery or if you are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
From my experience, when people manage their illnesses or surgeries they deal with mental and emotional issues as well as physical issues.