Comorbid conditions increase the risk of being infected with COVID. We hear that all the time but what does it really mean? A study was just released that provides some very important insights. Here is a chart showing the odds ratio, that is a measure of the relative risk compared to a healthy person. Look closely. This is important. Note that NASH is over 14.
Broadly, these are the elements of metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease.
This is a new report by Ghoneim S, Butt MU, Hamid O, Shah A, Asaad I, The incidence of COVID-19 in patients with metabolic syndrome and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis: A population-based study, Metabolism
The thing that jumps out is that the NASH odds ratio is so very high. Astonishing since we don't see liver disease highlighted in the typical press reports.
The reason for that is our practice of not diagnosing early stage NASH. We don't pay attention to it until people get sick. It is the view of the Foundation that this is an incorrect strategy and we have been doing our SUNN study to shed light on this problem as our way of trying to get better care for liver disease patients.
You should ask this question, "So smarty pants, how did they get this result if we don't have any data?"
Thanks for asking. What we have is an example of what is possible with big data. By analyzing 65 million patient medical records they were able to pull out enough valid examples to allow for a proper statistical analysis. When someone shows up at an emergency room with COVID the docs aren't looking at what factors made it easier for that person to become ill. They are dealing with the immediate medical threats and the whys are left to the medical detectives. The result is that reports from the front lines are just a very coarse filter, but because our medical system doesn't tell us the truth about our liver disease burden, discussions about liver disease risk are minimized.
This COVID crisis will pass, but the problem of liver disease and all of the obesity and metabolic problems that are on that same train will not. A key goal for us is to raise awareness about this march to poor health that is a direct result of our modern lifestyle and unhealthy food system. One of the tools we are using is the SUNN study. Here is a link if you would like to know more about that.
Something else to think about in the odds chart above is that the disease we call metabolic syndrome is the second highest, which makes sense since it is a disease, but obesity itself ranks as a high risk issue even though we try not to say that it is an illness. Something to consider when you are next asked, "Supersize That?"