Gastric Bypass Surgery Benefits More Than the Heart

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Severely obese patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery show structural changes in their heart that indicate the organ is more normal is shape and function post-surgery, according to a new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. But gastric bypass surgery benefits more than the heart, as other studies show.

Gastric bypass surgery improves diabetes, GERD and more

Treatment strategies for people with type 2 diabetes who are also obese have been less than adequate, and in some patients the more aggressive approach of gastric bypass surgery may be a viable option. A new study from Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine reports that the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure is one of the most widely used weight loss surgeries for obese individuals who have type 2 diabetes.

This approach results in improved blood glucose control, increased insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, and changes in gut hormones and incretins. Complication rates are less than 1 percent for this and other bariatric (surgical weight loss) procedures.

Another recent study, published in the Annals of Surgery, reported on 22 obese patients with type 2 diabetes who underwent gastric bypass surgery and who were followed for 36 months. Sixteen (72%) of the patients achieved remission of their type 2 diabetes by their latest follow-up, which meant they no longer needed their diabetes medication.

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Gastric bypass surgery can also improve GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) in obese patients. A new study published in Obesity Surgery reported on 65 patients who were scheduled to undergo gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy (another type of bariatric surgery).

Before surgery, 15 patients had esophageal erosion associated with GERD. One year after surgery, there was an increase in the number of patients with esophageal erosion among those who underwent sleeve gastrectomy but a decrease among the gastric bypass patients.

Obese patients can also enjoy other benefits after gastric bypass surgery. According to an Expert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology article by Yale University School of Medicine researchers, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the “gold standard” bariatric procedure for most patients. In addition to the benefits already mentioned, such surgery can improve other obesity-related conditions, such as asthma, hypertension, high cholesterol, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and hypoventilation. It can also improve life expectancy.

Although gastric bypass surgery and other bariatric procedures are not without risks, there are many health benefits to be gained with the weight loss. In addition to the physical health advantages, there are also the emotional benefits of improved self-esteem and mood.

SOURCES:
Colucci RA. Postgrad Med 2011 Jan; 123(1): 24-33
Miguel GP et al. Obesity Surgery 2011 Feb; 21(2): 167-72
Pournaras DJ et al. Annals of Surgery 2010 Dec; 252(6): 966-71
Salameh BS et al. Expert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology 2010 Apr; 4(2): 217-23

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