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Respiration. 2014;87(3):219-26. doi: 10.1159/000357317. Epub 2014 Jan 23.

The effect of obesity on outcomes in mechanically ventilated patients in a medical intensive care unit.

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INOVA Loudoun Hospital, Leesburg, Va., USA.



The effect of obesity on outcomes in critically ill patients requiring invasive mechanical ventilation in a medical intensive care unit (ICU) is uncertain.


This study was intended to further explore the relationship between outcomes and obesity in patients admitted to a medical ICU who required invasive mechanical ventilation.


All adult patients admitted to the medical ICU at Washington Hospital Center requiring intubation and invasive mechanical ventilation for at least 24 h between January 1 and December 31, 2009, were retrospectively studied. Patients were categorized as nonobese (BMI <30) and obese (BMI ≥30). The primary outcome measure was 30-day mortality following intubation. Secondary outcomes included ICU length of stay (LOS), hospital LOS and duration of mechanical ventilation.


There were 504 eligible patients: 306 nonobese and 198 (39%) obese. Obese patients had significantly higher rates of diabetes (43 vs. 30%, p = 0.004), hyperlipidemia (32 vs. 24%, p = 0.04), asthma (16 vs. 8%, p = 0.004) and obstructive sleep apnea requiring continuous positive airway pressure treatment (12 vs. 1%, p < 0.001). Nonobese patients had a significantly higher rate of HIV infection (10 vs. 5%, p = 0.05) and malignancy (21 vs. 13%, p = 0.03). There were no significant differences in mortality up to 30 days following intubation and secondary outcomes between obese and nonobese patients. Multivariate analysis using logistic regression showed no significant relationship between mortality rate at 30 days following intubation and obesity. Outcomes were similar for the black obese (n = 153) and nonobese (n = 228) patients and the obese (n = 85) and very obese (n = 113) patients.


Obesity did not influence outcomes in critically ill patients requiring invasive mechanical ventilation in a medical ICU. Black obese patients had similar outcomes to black nonobese patients, and very obese patients also had similar outcomes to obese patients.

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