Obese people who suffer critical injuries are much more likely to die than thinner victims because their overall health tends to be worse and surgery is riskier, a study said Monday.
Obesity -- which has reached epidemic proportions in the United States -- can reduce lung capacity and causes heart problems that can worsen the outcome of an injury.
In a 2002 study of 242 Los Angeles trauma patients, 63 of whom were obese, researchers concluded that rates of multiple organ failure and death were significantly higher among the heavier patients.
“Obesity, as an independent risk factor, carries a nearly six-fold increase in mortality rate,” said study author Angela Neville of Los Angeles County and the University of Southern California Medical Center, Los Angeles.
The excess fat carried by obese patients also made emergency surgery more difficult, the report published in The Archives of Surgery medical journal said.
Nearly 19 percent of the U.S. population is obese, the report said.