For People With Type 2 Diabetes, Weight Loss Surgery May Lower Risk of Heart Problems

Study also finds reduced risk of death in people who had weight loss surgery

According to new research, weight loss surgery may have other significant benefits on top of the weight loss itself.

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While obesity increases a person’s risk of stroke, heart attack and death, a new study shows that weight loss surgery can potentially reverse that risk of heart-related diseases and death.

The observational study followed 13,722 people who were diagnosed with obesity and Type 2 diabetes for eight years. Of the participants, 2,287 had weight loss surgery, and the rest received the usual medical care.

“For six major heart-related outcomes, there was a 39% lower risk in those who underwent surgery compared with those who got the usual medical care,” says Steven Nissen, MD, cardiologist and senior author of the study. This included lower risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, diabetes-related kidney disease and atrial fibrillation. The data also showed a 41% reduction in the death risk for people who underwent weight loss surgery.

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“There are very few therapies in treating heart disease that come close to having this big of an effect,” Dr. Nissen says.

He adds that diabetes improved in the surgery group, too, with many people able to stop taking insulin and requiring fewer blood pressure medications after surgery.

“Now that we’ve seen these remarkable results, a well-designed randomized controlled trial is needed to definitively determine whether metabolic surgery can reduce the incidence of major heart problems in patients with Type 2 diabetes and obesity,” he says.

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Study results were presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Paris, France, by bariatric surgeon Ali Aminian, MD. The full study can be found online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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