We’re learning as we go with this new flu.
We already know how it attacks young children and pregnant women. But a study released today of the first 16 weeks of the H1N1 swine flu now shows a new, highly vulnerable population: People who are very overweight.
A study by the California Pandemic Working Group that appears in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association compiled numbers from the California department of Public Health and 61 of the state’s local health departments between April 23 and Aug. 11.
The research studied 1,088 people who were hospitalized or died from the swine flu in California between those dates. Of those for whom body mass index (BMI) information was available, more than 50% were obese and about 25% were morbidly obese. That’s way out of proportion to our normal population – in society, only 4% to 5% of us are morbidly obese.
Why is this so?
Experts aren’t yet sure, and the Centers for Disease Control want even more study. But some believe that carrying the extra weight makes a person more vulnerable to breathing problems or respiratory complications. The most common causes of death in the California patients were viral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.