Weight-loss surgery lowers the likelihood of a heart attack in very obese people

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By Cara Murez

Health Day Reporter

WEDNESDAY, November 16, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Bariatric surgery can significantly help prevent heart attacks, strokes and angina in very obese people, according to a new study. The study participants were also affected by the so-called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is often associated with being overweight.

When examining patients with a body mass index (BMI) over 40 and NAFLD, researchers at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and Ohio State University found that these patients were 50% more likely to have heart attacks, strokes and angina.

But the new results “provide evidence to support bariatric surgery as an effective therapeutic tool to reduce the increased risk of cardiovascular disease in selected individuals with obesity and NAFLD,” said study author Dr. Vinod Rustgi, director of the Center for Liver Disease and Liver Measurements at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. “These results are tremendously powerful for many reasons.”

Rustgi and his colleagues used a health insurance database for the years 2007 to 2017.

They found nearly 87,000 adults aged 18 to 64 with obesity and NAFLD, about 64% of whom were women. About 35% of these patients underwent bariatric surgery, while 65% received nonsurgical care.

Patients who underwent bariatric surgery had a 49% reduced risk of developing heart attacks, heart failure, or ischemic strokes (caused by a blockage). Researchers found that they also had far less angina, plaque buildup in the arteries, or arterial blood clots.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 697,000 people died from heart disease in the United States in 2020. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

NAFLD, along with a more advanced form of liver disease known as NASH, is a rapidly increasing cause of liver disease, according to the study. This happens when too much fat is stored in the liver cells, triggering an inflammatory condition. NAFLD is more common in people who are obese and have type 2 diabetes.

According to the researchers, bariatric surgery may offer heart health benefits due to the positive effects of weight loss.


A previous study by Rustgi and colleagues found that bariatric surgery can also significantly reduce the risk of cancer — particularly cancers associated with obesity — in overweight individuals with NAFLD.

“Although bariatric surgery is a more aggressive approach than lifestyle changes, it may come with other benefits, such as: B. an improved quality of life and reduced burden on long-term healthcare,” Rustgi said in a Rutgers press release.

The results were recently published in the journal JAMA network open.

More information

The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more on weight loss surgeries.

SOURCE: Rutgers University-New Brunswick, press release, November 14, 2022

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