In a new study, researchers have linked being overweight with an increased risk of getting COVID-19 in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), one of the UK’s most common lung diseases.
The findings are essential information for the 1.2 million UK people living with COPD.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Manchester.
COPD is a chronic life-limiting disorder that causes inflammation in the lungs, damaging tissue and narrowing the airways, making breathing increasingly difficult.
Many people living with COPD are thought to be overweight –as having a body mass index of over25.
Around 2% of the UK—and 4.5% of people aged over 40—live with diagnosed COPD according to the British Lung Foundation.
Many COPD patients suffer from frequent viral infections, so they also have a high risk of developing COVID-19.
The team examined the lung tissue of 37 patients and found higher levels of a receptor called ACE2 is more common in overweight patients with COPD.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 is the receptor for the virus on the cell surface which allows SARS-CoV-2—the cause of COVID-19—to gain entry into the body.
The researchers found overweight COPD patients have more of the receptor, or entry point, required for coronavirus infection, in their lungs.
This means these patients may be at a greater risk of developing COVID-19 due to increased opportunities for infection.
The findings suggest that the risk is further increased in COPD patients who are also overweight.
The team suggests that if people do have COPD and are overweight, then it is extremely important for them to follow the guidance and continue to use shielding strategies to keep themselves safe from COVID-19.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Andrew Higham.
The study is published in the journal Obesity.
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