Weight-loss surgery reduces risk of death from cardiovascular disease

The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, weight-loss surgery may be linked to a reduced risk of death from heart disease.

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports that investigators “compared 2,010 middle-aged, obese people who had weight-loss surgery with 2,037 similar obese people who received normal medical care, which usually included counseling on lifestyle choices that affect weight.”

The patients “were followed for an average of 14.7 years.”

Bloomberg News reports, “Twenty-eight of the 2,010 patients who underwent surgery died from cardiovascular complications, compared with 49 of the 2,037 study participants who received standard medical care.”

The researchers found that “there were 199 heart attacks and strokes among the surgery patients, compared with 234 in the other group.”

Participants “who underwent bariatric surgery lost about 23 percent of their body weight within two years, and still weighed 18 percent less two decades later, according to the researchers.”

MedPage Today reports that “these observational results from the Swedish Obese Subjects study are the first to show reduced incidence of cardiovascular deaths and events, the group pointed out, although these results were independent of baseline BMI or amount of weight lost.”

The NPR “Shots” blog reports, “In an accompanying JAMA editorial, Dr. Edward Livingston, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, writes that ‘because the expected health benefits do not necessarily exceed the risks of weight-loss operations, obese patients without other weight-related complications generally should not undergo bariatric surgery.'”

Dr. Livingston urges “the National Institutes of Health to convene another expert panel to rigorously assess the available evidence and provide an update on 20-year-old recommendations for bariatric procedures for the treatment of obesity.”

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