How Covid-19 Attacks Fat Cells and Increases Hospitalization Rates
Fat Cells Increase Covid-19 Vulnerability
A recent study published in Cell Metabolism on September 15th demonstrated the long suspected link between fat cells and the Covid-19 virus. While the link has been suspected for some time, the expansiveness of how many ways the fat cells are utilized against the health of the individual is surprising and of great concern to physicians and the research community.
Doctor, researcher, and cardiologist James Lo described the connection, “We normally don’t think fat cells are very active, but in fact, they synthesize many protective proteins for your body, and it appears SARS-CoV-2 may disable that protection in many patients.”
Covid-19 disrupts important metabolic pathways and triggers hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is characterized by higher blood sugar levels and is strongly linked to much higher death and hospitalization rates for Covid-19 sufferers. This is one of the major reasons why the obese have had significantly worse health outcomes than the general population.
Fat Cells, Hyperglycemia, and Covid-19 Caused Respiratory Disorders
Covid-19 has been known to be linked to respiratory disorders. Many individuals who have recovered from the virus still have suffered from shortness of breath and other serious respiratory concerns. Now we know hyperglycemia and respiratory issues are related in other ways.
The researchers found patients with hyperglycemia are nine times more likely to develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) than individuals with normal levels of blood sugar. Not only is that a major red flag, but hyperglycemia patients were intubated 1500% more often and died at a 300% higher rate than those with better blood sugar control.
The study found COVID-19 patients had hyperglycemia mostly caused by insulin resistance instead of the lack of insulin production. Insulin resistance means there is available insulin production but the tissues the insulin normally acts upon no longer can effectively use the insulin to convert sugars to fuel to support bodily functions.
Doctor Lo and his colleagues analyzed records of well over 3000 Covid-19 patients and found half (49.7%) suffered from hyperglycemia, either when they arrived or developed it during their hospital stay.
Obesity and Extra Weight Causes Covid-19 Susceptibility
Extra fat cell weight not only leads to worse outcomes for individuals who get Covid-19, it also vastly increases the odds of coming down with the virus at all.
As noted in the study, COVID-19 ARDS patients suffered severe declines in adiponectin within their blood. Adiponectin is a hormone produced by fat cells which normally has a protective effect against diabetes by enhancing insulin sensitivity. Since SARS-CoV-2 infects adipocytes, the virus changes adipose tissue (fat) to cause insulin resistance and drive poor Covid-19 health outcomes.
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