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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More on the Swine Flu

On my way into work this am, I heard a report on NPR about the swine flu.

California has published some data on their documented cases. The majority of the patients with documented swine flu had mild symptoms. However, 30 patients have been hospitalized. 5 of them required intubation (placement on a mechanical breathing machine) and 1 may not survive. Of the patients hospitalized many had known established risk factors severe flu symptoms including pregnancy, heart diease, diabetes and asmthma.

However, of the patients that we considered "previously healthy", many of them were obese. This has not been reported with seasonal flu. Might it be that the swine flu will be more likely to lead to serious disease in obese patients. Given what we Americans look like, think of how many patients could be at risk for a serious case of swine flu.

I do take issue with this report though. I would NOT call an obsese patient HEALTHY. It has been shown over and over again that obesity leads to multiple health related issues. In fact, as I commented in my April 28th posting, obesity is the 3rd most frequent risk factor in America that may be responsible for 216,000 preventable deaths yearly.

In my opinion, obesity is a disease state and, if left untreated, will lead towards markedly increased rates of morbidity and mortality.

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