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Gastric Bypass Surgery Cuts Death Risk

There may be some negative preconceived ideas about weight loss surgery, the thinking being that it’s an easy way out or that it’s giving up on yourself. No matter what your views are on the subject, there’s one thing for sure: it saves lives.

According to a new study from Sweden, obese people who have gastric bypass surgery performed are less likely to die from heart attack and stroke than those who take part in conventional treatment for their weight issues. The 4,000 Swedish patients who participated in the lengthy study were recruited between 1987 and 2001.

One of three weight loss surgeries were performed: They either had gastric bypass, banding, or vertical banded gastroplasty. Taken together, they all lost between 16 and 23 percent of their body weight over the time of the study.

Just as importantly, their risks for fatal conditions were also reduced.

“Bariatric surgery was associated with reduced number of fatal heart attack deaths (22 in the surgery group vs. 37 in the control group),” said the study led by Lars Sjostrom of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. It also lowered the occurrence of fatal strokes.

The reduction wasn’t exclusive to fatal outcomes. Bariatric surgery was also linked to lower numbers of heart attacks and strokes.

“The message is clear – bariatric surgery saves lives,” said Mitchell Roslin, chief of obesity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. He was not involved in the study.

Roslin also pointed out that vertical banded gastroplasty, the most commonly performed surgery in the study, has been replaced by newer improved methods, which means the risk for cardiovascular death might be even lower today.

The study gets intriguing when the authors say they didn’t see similar benefits with people who lost weight on their own without surgery. One potential reason could be the extremely high rate of people not being able to keep the weight off.

January 4th, 2012

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