Overweight patients in East Hertfordshire are being asked to lose weight before they can be listed for routine surgery. People with a body mass index (BMI) of over 40 that need any routine surgery under general, epidural or spinal anaesthetic are being told they first need to lose at least 10 per cent of their weight during the course of nine months before they can have the operation.
In addition, those people who have a BMI of between 30 and 40 and suffer from health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol will also be required to lower their weight by the same amount.
Tony Kostick, chairman of the East and North Herts Clinical Commissioning Group, commented “There are a number of things that contribute to the success of a procedure carried out under anaesthetic. An important one of these is to be a healthy weight and another is to be a non-smoker.”
He added “There’s always a risk when patients are given an anaesthetic, but there is strong clinical evidence that proves that this risk is significantly higher when they are overweight and if they smoke.”
The reason for the move is that overweight patients are at a higher risk from serious breathing problems, infections and heart, kidney and lung complications, as well as being more likely to die under anaesthetic. However, the restrictions are intended for patients requiring routine and planned surgery, and not for those who need emergency surgery.

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