Friday, December 7, 2018

Chest Muscle vs Body Fat as an Indicator of ICU Survival

If you have been reading along with me for awhile, you know that losing weight has been a large part of my journey.  When I first met my Transplant Team, I was denied the opportunity for a transplant because I had too much body fat.  At my heaviest I weighed 289 lbs. At the bottom of my weight loss journey I weighed in the mid 140's.  I feel my best in the mid 150's, but my Team wanted me to put on a bit more weight to give me an energy reserve for those times when I was sick. I'm currently in the low 170's and this makes my Team (and my Mom) happy. I would prefer to be lighter.  I bring this up because the results of a recent study indicate that body fat may not provide any additional chance of surviving a visit to the ICU.  From PulmonologyAdvisor:

The above article suggests that the amount of muscle in your chest is a much better indicator of survival than amount of body fat when you visit the ICU.
Larger PMA at admission was associated with significantly better outcomes, including higher rates of 6-month survival ..., lower rates of hospital mortality ..., and more ICU-free days (.... In contrast, SAT was not significantly associated with any of the measured outcomes.
PMA = Pectoralis Muscle Area.  SAT = Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue.

What this says to me as a patient who spends a lot of time in the hospital, and some of that time will be in the ICU, is that I should maintain my body fat and muscle mass pretty much the same as a healthy individual.

It is also a bit of a concern for me as during my last visit the Doctor mentioned that the muscles in the right side of my chest are shrinking.  Back to the kettlebells I go.

Something to talk with my Team about during our next visit.

12/9/18 - Muscle mass and core strength are also shown to help with lung transplant recovery.


  1. Hi, my father is currently in same stage, need to know more detail

    1. Shoot me an email with your questions and I'll answer best I can.