Both diabetes and obesity can raise the risk for heart disease and death. Fortunately, there are ways to help people manage their weight and diabetes, and one of those ways may be surgery.
A recent study found that gastric bypass surgery — a weight loss surgery that reduces the size of the stomach — significantly lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke and other diabetes-related complications in obese diabetes patients.
The researchers suggested that their findings can help educate the public about the benefits of gastric bypass surgery for obese people with diabetes.
The lead author of this study was Ali Aminian, MD, from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
The study included 131 obese people with diabetes and no heart disease. All of them had gastric bypass surgery between January 2004 and December 2007.
The average age of the participants was 48.3 years old. They had all had had diabetes for an average of 6.4 years.
The researchers determined risk for different conditions and complications related to diabetes at initial screening and after follow-up.
The risk assessment involved coronary heart (blood flow to the heart area) disease, cerebrovascular (blood flow in the brain) disease, peripheral vascular (blood flow to legs and feet) disease, intermittent claudication (pain from bad circulation), heart attack, stroke and death from heart disease.
After an average follow-up time of 6.4 years after surgery, the researchers found that they lost an average of 60 percent of their excess weight. There was also diabetes remission in 61 percent of the participants.
The findings also showed that 85 percent of the participants had reached levels of HbA1c (measure of blood sugar over the past three months) that were within the recommended goals.
In addition, 73 percent of the participants were able to lower their cholesterol to be within the recommended goals.
A total of 61 percent of the participants reached recommended blood pressure levels as well.
Overall, the surgery reduced the 10-year risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease and peripheral vascular disease by 27 percent.
Individually, the researchers also found that gastric bypass surgery was associated with a 20 percent reduction of 10-year risk for CHD.
The 10-year risk of heart attack and stroke was reduced by 40 percent and 42 percent, respectively.
The researchers also found that there was a 45 percent reduced five-year risk of moderate to severe kidney disease.
Lastly, the participants had lowered the five-year risk of dying from heart disease by 18 percent.
The researchers concluded that gastric bypass surgery could significantly reduce complications associated with diabetes over the long term. The researchers suggested that these findings can help raise public awareness about the benefits of gastric bypass surgery.
This study was presented at the 30th Annual Meeting for the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery on November 13.