Swedish and American surgeons presented two studies in March at the Second World Congress on Interventional Therapies for Type II Diabetes which demonstrated a marked reduction in the incidences of heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, rapid pulse rate and a lowered serum lipids following bariatric procedures. Cardiac function was also demonstrated to have improved. The Swedish study included 4047 patients studied over a 20 year time period and the American study had 1156 participants followed over 2 years. A decrease in LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides were noted as well as an improvement in insulin resistance.

Each of these studies was compared with “conventional medication therapy and/or lifestyle modification.” The lead surgeons commented that these results supported the use of bariatric surgery to prevent cardiovascular complications in obese type II diabetics. Benefits were felt to outweigh the risk of long term complications from bariatric procedures. Since according to the American Heart Association at least 65% of diabetics die of heart disease or stroke, improvement in diabetes resulting from weight loss should markedly increase long term survival.

This study is yet another which demonstrates that significant weight loss can significantly lower a wide range of cardiovascular risk factors. Diabetes is improved and high blood pressure often disappears. Unfortunately, the study only compared bariatric surgery, which has significant long term complications and represents a drastic alteration in gastrointestinal metabolism, with “conventional medication therapy and/or lifestyle modification.”

A much more interesting study would have also included a large number of patients on an intensive medical weight loss program with long term weight management similar to the Prescription Weight Loss Clinic® program. In our experience losing weight is what is important, not the method utilized. Massive weight reductions on the order of those obtainable through bariatric surgery can be achieved with a good medical weight loss program in patients who are willing to participate. All too often patients use bariatric surgery as the “easy way out” — just have an operation and then all of your problems are solved. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. Failure of bariatric surgery due to patient overeating remains a real problem. Many of these patients end up in medical weight loss programs where they learn the techniques useful for long term weight management. The message is clear, however, Lose Weight and Your Health Improves.

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