International Diabetes Federation Supports Bariatric Surgery for Obese Diabetics

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The International Diabetes Federation (IDF), an organization of over 200 national diabetes associations, has released a Position Statement on Bariatric Surgery, calling for bariatric surgery to be considered earlier in the treatment of eligible obese diabetic patients. The paper was presented to attendees at the 2nd World Congress on Interventional Therapies for Type 2 Diabetes this week.

Weight Loss Surgery Can Normalize Blood Sugar, Reduce Cardiovascular Risk

The IDF statement was written by 20 leading experts in diabetes and bariatric surgery who based their findings and recommendations on several studies showing that weight loss surgeries, such as the gastric bypass, are a cost effective treatment option for severely obese people with type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Lars Sjostrom, a professor at the Institute of Medicine in Sweden, presented new data on the surgical treatment of patients with Type 2 diabetes at the Congress, showing that bariatric surgery has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and strokes in patients with diabetes.

Dr. Sjostrom compared 2,010 bariatric surgeries with 2,037 non-surgical patients who received medical treatment or lifestyle modification for obesity. Patients were enrolled in the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study and were followed for 20 years, making it the longest study of its kind. Two years after surgery, 70% of patients remained in remission from diabetes. After 15 years, 30% still had normalized blood sugar readings.

Read: Weight Loss Surgery Can Reverse Both Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

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The incidence of new cardiovascular events, either heart attack or stroke, was found to be at least 30% lower among post-surgical patients than their conservatively treated counterparts. According to the American Heart Association, at least 65% of people with diabetes die of some form of heart disease or stroke.

A separate study, conducted at the University of Utah School of Medicine, found that after gastric bypass surgery, patients had reductions in blood pressure, heart rate, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and insulin resistance than those treated with medication and lifestyle modification.

Read: Gastric Bypass Surgery Benefits More than Heart

Bariatric surgery procedures, particularly those that bypass the upper part of the small intestine, appear to change the hormonal secretions of the gut. These changes may be what is responsible for the resolution of diabetes in a majority of patients.

"This is a watershed moment for diabetes care. With 20 years of data, we can really see how the surgery can improve a spectrum of health measures -- notably cardiovascular risk," says Dr. Francesco Rubino, director of the Congress and director of gastrointestinal metabolic surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The 2nd World Congress on Interventional Therapies for Type 2 Diabetes is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary forum of worldwide specialists whose aim is to craft an agenda of research priorities and healthy policy initiatives which may provide direction for future treatments for diabetes.

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