Weight loss surgery may cut deaths from heart disease and stroke

November 12, 2012

Weight loss surgery may cut deaths from heart disease and stroke

There can be many health benefits behind having weight loss surgery, especially if you are morbidly obese.

It is already understood that patients who undergo weight loss surgery will experience a wide range of health benefits as well as their dramatic weight loss. Those who have undergone bariatric surgery are shown to have fewer occurrences of heart disease, diabetes and cancer than those obese individuals who have not had the surgery. Other noted post surgery benefits include reduction of joint pain, heartburn or acid reflux, relief of incontinence, reduction in blood pressure and relief of sleep apnoea. Patients may also discover that their asthma has disappeared and that their breathing is generally much easier – hypoventilation being a known side effect of obesity. Some patients have reported an improvement in sexual performance as well fertility. Generally speaking, obese individuals can expect greatly improved overall health and quality of life as a result of stomach by-pass surgery.

Of course patients who lose weight are also able to move about more frequently and may, as a result of bariatric surgery, be able to start an exercise program for the first time in many years.

Recent research, carried out in Sweden, appears to show that bariatric patients also experience a lower incidence of death from cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack and stroke.

The study

This particular study followed 4,ooo middle aged, morbidly obese people with a BMI of over 40; 2,000 of these volunteers underwent surgery; 2,000 did not. All received normal health care apart from the surgery.

The participants in the study were checked after 2 years, 10, 15 and 20 years. The results showed -

Surgical patients lost and kept off as much as 23% of their original body weight.

Patients who did not have surgery remained at around the same original weight.

Patients who did not have surgery suffered more heart disease as well as more fatal heart attacks and strokes.

Amongst the non-surgery group there were 49 deaths with cardiovascular causes, in the surgery group only 28 deaths were reported.

Researchers believe that this study gives conclusive evidence that bariatric surgery has many life saving benefits aside from weight loss.

Obesity – leading cause of preventable death

Obesity is increasingly associated with heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and increased mortality. It is one of the world’s leading preventable causes of death.

Surgery – not a quick fix

Whilst the results of this Swedish study may be encouraging it should also be noted that bariatric surgery is not without its’ risks – including infection, hernia, bleeding, bowel obstruction, nutritional deficiency and leakage from the stomach in the abdominal cavity. The results of a gastric by-pass are not always successful with many candidates putting all or most of the weight they managed to lose back on again, once again putting them at risk of all those problems associated with obesity. Surgeons in Texas advise caution in this whole area as the expected health benefits do not always exceed the known risks of weight loss surgery – obese patients who have no other weight related health issues should generally not undergo bariatric surgery. These surgeons recommend further extensive research be undertaken into the effects and risks of bariatric surgery.

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