Bariatric surgery can be a difficult decision for treating obesity, as patients and their doctors weigh the risks and side effects of the procedure against the benefits of the weight loss that usually follows.
In a new study from McMaster University, researchers found that this surgery may help lower heart disease risk in people who already have cardiovascular problems.
They found that people with heart disease and severe obesity who underwent bariatric surgery had fewer major heart disease events than people with similar conditions who did not have the surgery. Fewer of them died as well.
Bariatric surgery involves various procedures to reduce the size of the stomach and reroute the digestive tract in hopes of limiting the amount of food one can eat or the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
Combined with diet and exercise, bariatric surgery can result in big weight loss and reduce the risk of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
In the study, the team matched 1,319 people with heart disease or heart failure who had bariatric surgery against an equal number of people with similar circumstances who did not have the procedure.
After a follow-up of 4.6 years, nearly 20% of those who did not have surgery experienced an adverse outcome – ranging from a heart attack or stroke to heart failure hospitalization or overall mortality – compared to about 12% who did have surgery.
That translated to a 42% reduction in risk.
The team says if you’re morbidly obese and have heart disease, down the line you’re going to be more likely to have problems with your heart if you don’t have bariatric surgery.
When you carry less weight, your heart has to work less to pump blood. So there is less strain on your heart, but there is also improvement in other cardiovascular risk components, such as lowering triglycerides and cholesterol.
But the risks of the surgery can range from reaction to anesthesia and infection to hernias, blood clots and malnutrition.
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The study is published in Circulation. One author of the study is Dr. Mehran Anvari.
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