Medical Moment: How weight loss surgery helps the heart

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 5:52 PM EDT
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(WNDU) - Almost 83 million Americans have one form of cardiovascular disease.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack.

A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, happens when a part of the heart muscle doesn’t get enough blood. The more time that passes without treatment, the greater the damage to the heart muscle. The main cause of a heart attack is coronary artery disease, or CAD. A sudden contraction of a coronary artery that can stop blood flow to the heart muscle is a less common cause.

Now, a new study by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic shows that weight loss surgery might help make a patient’s heart healthier.

Bariatric surgery, or gastric bypass surgery, has been proven to help patients lose dramatic amounts of weight, in some cases, up to 100 lbs. in the first year, and they experience other health benefits, too.

“Patients with obesity who underwent bariatric surgery had significantly lower risk of death and new onset, heart failure, heart attack, and stroke,” said Amgad Mentias, MD, at the Cleveland Clinic.

Researchers looked at the health outcomes of 95,000 Medicare patients and found that bariatric surgery had a preventive effective at all ages, including those age 65 to 75. It’s a patient population that hasn’t been extensively studied.

“The amount of risk reduction in these patients were impressive. As I mentioned, it was more than 30 percent for most of the outcomes,” said Dr. Mentias.

The researchers say the findings indicate the health consequences of obesity on the cardiovascular system are reversible when patients lose significant weight and keep it off.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, just one percent of patients who could benefit from bariatric surgery undergo a weight loss procedure. He says the study findings suggest doctors and patients might consider bariatric surgery if lifestyle, diet, and other measures aren’t working.

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