Background: Obesity may contribute to adverse outcomes in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, studies of large, broadly generalizable patient populations are lacking, and the effect of body mass index (BMI) on COVID-19 outcomes - particularly in younger adults - remains uncertain. Methods: We analyzed data from patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at 88 US hospitals enrolled in the American Heart Association's COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry with data collection through July 22, 2020. BMI was stratified by World Health Organization obesity class, with normal weight prespecified as the reference group. Results: Obesity, and, in particular, class III obesity, was overrepresented in the registry in comparison with the US population, with the largest differences among adults ≤50 years. Among 7606 patients, in-hospital death or mechanical ventilation occurred in 2109 (27.7%), in-hospital death in 1302 (17.1%), and mechanical ventilation in 1602 (21.1%). After multivariable adjustment, classes I to III obesity were associated with higher risks of in-hospital death or mechanical ventilation (odds ratio, 1.28 [95% CI, 1.09-1.51], 1.57 [1.29-1.91], 1.80 [1.47-2.20], respectively), and class III obesity was associated with a higher risk of in-hospital death (hazard ratio, 1.26 [95% CI, 1.00-1.58]). Overweight and class I to III obese individuals were at higher risk for mechanical ventilation (odds ratio, 1.28 [95% CI, 1.09-1.51], 1.54 [1.29-1.84], 1.88 [1.52-2.32], and 2.08 [1.68-2.58], respectively). Significant BMI by age interactions were seen for all primary end points (P-interaction<0.05 for each), such that the association of BMI with death or mechanical ventilation was strongest in adults ≤50 years, intermediate in adults 51 to 70 years, and weakest in adults >70 years. Severe obesity (BMI ≥40 kg/m2) was associated with an increased risk of in-hospital death only in those ≤50 years (hazard ratio, 1.36 [1.01-1.84]). In adjusted analyses, higher BMI was associated with dialysis initiation and with venous thromboembolism but not with major adverse cardiac events. Conclusions: Obese patients are more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19, and are at higher risk of in-hospital death or mechanical ventilation, in particular, if young (age ≤50 years). Obese patients are also at higher risk for venous thromboembolism and dialysis. These observations support clear public health messaging and rigorous adherence to COVID-19 prevention strategies in all obese individuals regardless of age.
- body mass index
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)