Bariatric Surgery: Cutting Heart Attack Risk


CLEVELAND, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Every year, almost 300,000 Americans choose bariatric surgery, or gastric bypass surgery, to help them lose significant amounts of weight. Now, there’s a new study showing surprising benefits.

Almost 83 million Americans have one form of cardiovascular disease. Every year, 805,000 Americans have a heart attack. Now, a new study by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic suggests that weight loss surgery may significantly reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event, even among seniors.

Bariatric surgery, or gastric bypass surgery, has been proven to help patients lose dramatic amounts of weight, in some cases, up to 100 pounds in the first year, and experience other health benefits, too. Now, researchers have found significant cardiovascular benefits.

Staff in the clinical cardiology at the Heart Vascular and Thoracic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic and assistant professor at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Dr. Amgad Mentias says, “Patients with obesity who underwent bariatric surgery had significantly lower risk of death and new onset, heart failure and heart attack and stroke.”

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Researchers looked at the health outcomes of 95,000 Medicare patients and found that bariatric surgery had a preventive effect 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,” Dr. Mentias explains.

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.

Dr. Mentias says 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.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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BACKGROUND: 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.


RISK FACTORS: Various health conditions, a particular lifestyle, age, and family history can increase someone’s risk for heart disease and heart attack. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are three key risk factors for heart disease and about half of all Americans have at least one of these three risk factors. Obesity is another rising risk factor. Researchers at the University of Glasgow in Scotland found obesity is a risk factor for fatal heart attacks even for people who do not have the conditions normally associated with cardiovascular disease, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Jennifer Logue, MD, of the University of Glasgow, and a researcher in the study, said, “Obese, middle-aged men have a 60 percent increased risk of dying from a heart attack than non-obese middle-aged men, even after we cancel out any of the effects of cholesterol, blood pressure, and other cardiovascular risk factors.”


BARIATRIC SURGERY TO SAVE THE HEART: Bariatric surgery has long been used for weight loss, but a new study from Cleveland Clinic reveals that the surgery could also benefit the heart. Weight loss surgery decreases a person’s risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral heart disease and a study even reported that the weight loss achieved from the surgery can help prevent the risk of death associated with stroke, hypertension and myocardial infarction. After surgery, blood pressure and cholesterol levels can return to normal, reducing these risks and improving overall well-being. However, the key to bariatric surgery is keeping the weight off to experience the long-term health benefits. Walter Cha, MD, a surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, says, “While they may have some success at first, less than 5 percent of people keep the weight off for five years or more. In fact, patients usually gain the weight back in less than a year.”



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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Doctor Amgad Mentias, MD, staff in clinical cardiology

Read the entire Q&A