According to a recent study, weight loss surgery can reduce the risk of diabetes by 40% and reduce a range of heart complications that include the danger of early death.
These results are the latest development in the list of potential benefits of the operation. It is also known to help reverse sleep apnea, improve fertility, ease joint pain and pressure and relieve symptoms of depression. “When diabetes gets better when risk factors like high cholesterol and blood pressure decrease, we would expect improvement," said Ali Aminian, the lead researcher and a bariatric surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “But we didn’t expect it to this extent. That’s what’s surprising to us."
“After 30 or 40 years of making steady progress in reducing cardiovascular disease rates, about five years ago that improvement slowed, then halted," Nissen said. “Now there is very good evidence that it’s now beginning to tick back up again. Virtually everyone believes that the obesity epidemic, and diabetes that comes with it, is responsible."
The researchers tracked 2,287 diabetic patients who underwent weight-loss surgery at the Cleveland Clinic from 1998 through 2017. Their health was compared to a matched group of 11,435 people who didn’t undergo such an operation.
The study looked primarily at the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, heart failure, kidney damage, an erratic heart rate or death from any cause. After eight years, 31% of those who had surgery had experienced one of the serious complications, compared to 48% of those getting regular care.
The researchers were uncertain if the swift and dramatic weight loss typically seen after surgery would significantly alter their patients’ long-term heart health since any potential damage had been years in the making. While diabetic patients are particularly vulnerable to cardiovascular disease, few medications used to keep blood sugar in check have also been shown to improve heart health.
“When balancing the imperfections in the evidence for both medical and surgical treatment of diabetes, the many benefits associated with bariatric surgery-induced weight loss suggest that it should be the preferred treatment option for carefully selected, motivated patients who are obese and have diabetes and couldn’t lose weight by other means," he said.
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