Pulmonary complications of obesity

Am J Med Sci. 2001 Apr;321(4):249-79. doi: 10.1097/00000441-200104000-00006.


Obesity can profoundly alter pulmonary function and diminish exercise capacity by its adverse effects on respiratory mechanics, resistance within the respiratory system, respiratory muscle function, lung volumes, work and energy cost of breathing, control of breathing, and gas exchange. Weight loss can reverse many of the alterations of pulmonary function produced by obesity. Obesity places the patient at risk of aspiration pneumonia, pulmonary thromboembolism, and respiratory failure. It is the most common precipitating factor for obstructive sleep apnea and is a requirement for the obesity hypoventilation syndrome, both of which are associated with substantial morbidity and increased mortality. There are numerous medical and surgical therapies for obstructive sleep apnea and obesity hypoventilation. Weight reduction in the obese is among the most effective of these measures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / etiology*
  • Lung Diseases / therapy
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / etiology
  • Pulmonary Embolism / etiology
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / etiology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy