Potential for cardiovascular health benefits after bariatric surgery

Jack Woodfield
Fri, 08 Mar 2019
Potential for cardiovascular health benefits after bariatric surgery
Cardiovascular benefits of bariatric surgery for people with type 2 diabetes have been revealed at the Diabetes UK Professional conference.

Bariatric (weight loss) surgery can help people with type 2 diabetes experience improvements in blood glucose, and it is one possible way of achieving remission from type 2 diabetes. Other ways of achieving type 2 diabetes remission include low carb and low calorie diets.

In this new study from the University of Nottingham, led by Professor Iskandar Idris, the long-term benefits on cardiovascular health from weight loss surgery were explored.

A total of 131 people with type 2 diabetes who underwent bariatric surgery were compared with 579 people with the condition who did not undergo surgery. Their health outcomes were then monitored over a 10-year period.

The surgery group saw their risk of developing coronary heart disease lowered by 71%, and their risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD) reduced by 69% compared with the non-surgery group.

Coronary heart disease occurs when blood supply to the heart is blocked, while PAD is a condition in which a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood supply to leg muscles.

Currently it is only a small number of people who are recommended for such surgery, although NICE recommends surgery be offered to people with a BMI of 35 or above, and that those with recently-diagnosed type 2 diabetes should be offered assessment for surgery.

Mohammed Alkharaiji, the study's lead author, said: "Our data shows that, in the long run, significant overall health improvements are seen after surgery. In many cases, this increased the patients’ chances of being able to manage their type 2 diabetes without taking insulin and was accompanied by evidence of a protective effect against potential cardiovascular complications."

Weight loss was a significant benefit of the surgery, while other health improvements included lower blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

However, the research also showed that bariatric surgery did not appear to reduce the risk of other cardiovascular events the researchers tracked (heart attack, stroke and heart failure).

The researchers concluded that the potential long-term benefits in cardiovascular health which people could experience through weight loss surgery may increase pressure for bariatric surgery to be more seriously considered as a viable option for tackling type 2 diabetes in obese individuals, helping reduce their risk of cardiovascular health.
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