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Excess weight a plus in surviving sepsis infection

August 8, 2014
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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Not all the news is bad for seniors who are obese. A recent study of 1,404 (normal weight: 597; overweight: 473; obese: 334) Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized in intensive care with severe sepsis found that obese individuals  had a better chance of surviving a deadly sepsis infection. The study, which appears in Critical Care Medicine, was conducted by the University of Michigan Health System.

Using Medicare claims, researchers identified hospitalizations and measured inpatient healthcare facility use, then calculated Medicare spending (both total and itemized) in the year after hospitalization. Mortality was determined using the National Death Index.

After analyzing the data, researchers found that obesity is associated with better survival rates among all patients with sepsis.

“Physicians expect obese patients to do poorly, and this belief can affect the care and counseling they provide to patients and families. Our study indicates obese sepsis patients actually have lower mortality and similar functional outcomes as normal weight patients,” said lead author Hallie C. Prescott, MD, in an article.

The authors’ findings suggest that excess weight might cause the body to react differently to critical illnesses. Understanding how may help to improve care for all patients with critical illnesses.

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