Obesity, Cardiovascular Disease, and Influenza: How Are They Connected?

Current tropical medicine reports. 2020;:1-6
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Retrospective studies demonstrate that during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, obesity was identified as a risk factor for hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, and mortality upon infection. This study is a review which focuses on how obesity and cardiovascular disease impact influenza response. A higher body mass index and metabolic syndrome in patients with influenza have shown an increased risk and length of hospitalization, increased disease severity, morbidity, and mortality during lower respiratory tract infections. Obesity causes a chronic state of inflammation in a generalized and constant way with negative effects on immunity. In fact, obese people have delayed immune responses to influenza virus infection and experience slower recovery from the disease. Thus, recent recommendation advocates the priority of vaccination against influenza in obese patients. Furthermore, cardiovascular diseases, such as ischemic heart disease and heart failure combined with influenza A infection, can trigger acute heart failure exacerbations that increase the overall mortality in a hospitalized setting. The cardioprotective mechanism of influenza vaccination may not function effectively in obese cohorts, thus authors conclude that in order to prevent these complications and in the absence of special consideration treatments for this population, a weight-loss approach is highly recommended.


Purpose of Review: To better understand the impact of obesity and cardiovascular diseases on influenza A infection. Recent Findings: This infection could have detrimental outcomes in obese patients with cardiovascular diseases, such as an increased risk, length of hospitalization, disease severity, morbidity, and mortality. Nevertheless, there also might be some cardioprotective benefits associated with influenza vaccination, such as a reduced mortality, hospitalization, and acute coronary syndromes, in patients with coronary heart disease and/or heart failure. Summary: Obesity negatively impacts immune function and host defense. Recent studies report obesity to be an independent risk factor for increased morbidity and mortality following infection. Obese patients might need special considerations in the treatment; however, there is not enough evidence to fully comprehend the mechanisms behind the reduced immunocompetence when influenza A infection occurs. Future studies should focus on special consideration treatments when the patients have not been vaccinated and have cardiovascular diseases.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Triggers/Obesity
Environmental Inputs : Diet
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable

Methodological quality

Jadad score : Not applicable
Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article ; Review