The Pickwickian syndrome is named after the extraordinarily obese Dickens character, and is a complication of being seriously obese that usually occurs in women. Patients have significant shortness of breath, gross obesity, tiredness, blue skin (cyanosis), shallow breathing, cor pulmonale, high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart failure. Pneumonia and other serious infections are common.
Blood tests show abnormal levels of acidity, oxygen, carbon dioxide and red blood cells, and respiratory function tests and a chest X-ray show abnormal results.
The only treatment is significant weight loss while medications are used to control heart failure and hypertension. The prognosis is poor unless the patient succeeds in losing a large amount of weight.