GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Obese people are three times more likely to die after a lung transplant than individuals at healthier weights, providing first-time evidence that extremely heavy people should lose weight before having lung transplant surgery, University of Florida researchers have found.
Our results are significant in that they provide some scientific evidence for what has likely been the clinical experience of transplant programs, that obese patients probably have higher morbidity and shorter survival after lung transplantation, said James Rodrigue, Ph.D., an associate professor in the UF College of Health Professions clinical and health psychology department, who is one of the studys principal investigators.
Our findings also highlight the need for obese patients to participate actively in a weight-reduction program before transplantation, he said.
The findings were published in the February issue of Chest, the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.
Recently developed guidelines have suggested that obese people should not be eligible to receive transplants until they are no more than 30 percent above their ideal weights, but the UF study is the first to provide evidence of the harmful effects that abnormal weight, particularly obesity, play in patients outcomes after lung transplantation, said Maher Baz, M.D., an assistant professor in the College of Medicines department of medicine, division of pulmonary and critical care, and the studys other principal investigator.
More than half of adult Americans are considered overweight or obese by World Health Organization guidelines. In addition to an association with heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, obesity adversely affects lung function. It increases an individuals respiratory muscle demand, requiring more oxygen consumption than normal. The added strain on the lungs and muscles involved in breathing can damage an obese persons respiratory system.