Bariatric Surgery Lowers Heart Attack Risk
The primary goal of bariatric surgery is to reduce excess weight, and by doing this, these types of operations can also lessen the risk of other co-morbidities or co-occurring disorders. Frequently people who are morbidly obese suffer from hypertension, diabetes and other serious medical conditions which can lead to stroke, heart attack and death when left untreated. Due to the significant amount of weight loss afforded to patients through bariatric surgery, it is now becoming apparent that these surgeries are significantly lowering heart attack risk in patients who were previously at risk of severe heart conditions. Recent studies have focused on seriously obese patients who are at a high risk for heart disease, and how this risk has been significantly reduced through the use of bariatric surgery.
In the United Kingdom, a study was held that showed that weight loss operations like gastric banding have offered significant improvement in the reduction of heart attack and related death rates in obese patients. A second study was held by Swedish researchers that experienced very similar results, even when using a different sample size and following study participants for longer periods of time.
The United Kingdom Study
This study, which was held in the United Kingdom, was the first real comprehensive look at weight loss surgery and its critical impact on heart disease and stroke. The study began with a look at the outcomes for people at high risk of heart attack, including both those who had undergone bariatric surgery and those who had not. What the study showed was that the surgery had potentially lifesaving benefits, capable of lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke in obese patients by as much as 50 percent. This is according to Dr. Yoon Loke, the study’s senior author from Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in England.
UK Study Specifics
Researchers began by looking at 14 different previous studies that involved a sum of more than 29,000 different patients having had weight loss surgery. The mean age of patients in these studies was 48, and 30% of the patients were men. These participants were followed for between two and 14 years. Of the patients who had experienced bariatric surgery, such as the gastric sleeve procedure, there was a 40 percent reduction in death rates as compared to patients who had not had the procedure. This is according to the study findings that were published in the International Journal of Cardiology on March 28.
The Swedish Study
Swedish researchers recently followed 4,047 men and women who were considered morbidly obese for 15 years on average. Of these individuals, roughly half of all participants decided to have bariatric surgery at the beginning of this study. Of the approximately 50 percent of people who opted to have bariatric surgery, research showed that they were 33 percent less likely to experience a heart attack or a stroke as compared to the other half of participants who did not undergo the surgery. These individuals were also around 53 percent less likely to experience death resulting from a heart attack or stroke.
After the period of 15 years, the average initial body weight lost was 16 percent among individuals who had experienced the bariatric surgery. Individuals who did not undergo the surgery experienced slight weight loss amounts, if any at all. One thing that researchers noticed was that the heart attack risk reduction was similar among patients who lost very large sums of weight and those who only lost small amounts of weight, even though both types of patients underwent similar types of weight reduction surgery. According to Lars Sjöström, M.D., Ph.D., who is a professor of internal medicine, the benefit was the same regardless of how much weight was lost, among all the patients who underwent bariatric surgery.
The Link Between Bariatric Surgery and Heart Attack
The correlation between bariatric surgery and a reduction in heart attack risk has to do with how obesity can significantly increase the likelihood of heart attack and stroke. Because obesity raises heart attack risk, one of the most important things to reduce this risk is to garner weight loss. Weight lose surgery is fast becoming one of the best options for weight loss since it allows for morbidly obese patients to shed rapidly as much as 50% of their excess body weight in the first year alone when coupling the weight loss operation with healthy diet and exercise. Another important consideration to make is that to qualify for weight loss surgery, patients need to make a commitment to proper diet and exercise, and so the patients who underwent the surgery are almost guaranteed to have committed more deeply to losing weight and getting healthy than those who did not undergo the surgery. The rapid weight loss promised by most bariatric surgery procedures does play a role in the reduction of heart attack risk, though researchers are still working to determine just how much of a risk reduction can be expected.
More Information is Necessary
The benefit of bariatric surgery is a topic that researchers are still working to understand fully. Because the success rates for bariatric surgery can vary from patient to patient depending on their commitment to lifestyle changes, the reduction in risk of death or serious illness can also vary rather significantly as well. The authors of the study mentioned above have acknowledged that deeper research and a larger study is going to be required to understand the scope of bariatric surgery benefits and how these types of surgical procedures can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and other dangerous and deadly conditions.
Heart attack and stroke are two very real risks when it comes to morbid obesity, and they account for many of the deaths that are associated with obesity in the United States as well as worldwide. Researchers are working to understand better the correlation between bariatric surgery and heart attack risk reduction so that patients who are at serious risk of heart attack can begin to take steps to reduce that chance.