If you or a loved one suffers from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) coupled with obesity, here’s some encouraging news.
A recent study has shown that weight-loss surgery might not only help with weight issues and sleep apnea but could also significantly lower the risk of severe heart issues.
The Link Between Obesity, Sleep Apnea, and Heart Problems
Firstly, let’s understand what OSA is. It’s a condition where people stop breathing for short periods while they sleep.
Close to a billion adults around the globe suffer from OSA, and a surprising 70% of them are also dealing with obesity.
The extra fat around the neck of obese people can squash their airways, causing trouble in breathing while sleeping.
The common treatment for OSA is a therapy called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). But, CPAP only eases the symptoms.
It doesn’t cure OSA and doesn’t lower the chances of severe heart problems, which are unfortunately high for OSA patients.
The Study and Its Findings
The study, conducted by the Cleveland Clinic and presented at the 2023 American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) Annual Scientific Meeting, has found that bariatric surgery, also known as weight-loss surgery, can bring about remarkable benefits for OSA patients.
The surgery was linked to a 42% reduced risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) like heart failure, stroke, and irregular heartbeat.
Moreover, the risk of death was nearly 40% lower among those who underwent weight-loss surgery.
The study followed 13,657 patients diagnosed with obesity and moderate to severe OSA.
Among these, 970 patients underwent gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy (types of weight-loss surgery), while the others received standard non-surgical care, including CPAP.
After 10 years, 27% of those who had weight-loss surgery experienced MACE compared to 35.6% in the non-surgical group.
Also, the mortality rate was 37% lower in the group that had surgery and maintained around 25% weight loss compared to less than 5% weight loss in the non-surgical group.
The Implications of the Study
According to Dr. Ali Aminian, the lead author of the study, bariatric surgery can be a powerful tool that helps patients with sleep apnea lead longer and healthier lives.
This research suggests that patients and their doctors should strongly consider weight-loss surgery as a potential treatment option.
However, it’s worth noting that currently, only about 1% of those eligible for weight-loss surgery actually go through with it every year.
In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of bariatric surgeries was less than 200,000, the lowest in four years.
A Final Word
These findings highlight the importance of dealing with obesity to manage OSA and associated heart problems.
It also raises questions about the threshold of weight loss required for optimal impact on health outcomes – a topic for future research.
If you’re struggling with obesity and sleep apnea, it might be worth discussing the possibility of weight-loss surgery with your healthcare provider.
Remember, each patient is unique, and the best approach always depends on the individual’s overall health, medical history, and personal circumstances.
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