By Kara Morris
A new study finds that bariatric surgery may significantly help prevent heart attacks, strokes and angina pectoris in obese people. Study participants were also affected by what is known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is often associated with obesity.
While studying patients with a body mass index (BMI) above 40 and NAFLD, researchers from Rutgers University-New Brunswick and The Ohio State University found that these patients were 50% more likely to have heart attacks, strokes, and angina.
The new findings “provide evidence to support bariatric surgery as an effective treatment tool for reducing cardiovascular disease risk in selected individuals with obesity and NAFLD,” said study author Dr. Mass at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. “These findings have an enormous impact for many reasons.”
Rostje and colleagues used a medical insurance database for the years 2007 to 2017.
They found nearly 87,000 adults ages 18 to 64 with obesity and NAFLD, about 64% of whom were women. About 35% of these patients underwent bariatric surgery, while 65% received non-surgical care.
Patients who undergo bariatric surgery have a 49% reduction in the risk of heart attacks, heart failure, or strokes (those caused by blockages). The researchers found that they were less likely to have angina, plaque buildup in the arteries, or arterial blood clots.
About 697,000 people died of heart disease in 2020 in the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
According to the study, NAFLD, along with the more advanced form of liver disease known as NASH, is a fast-acting cause of liver disease. This happens when too much fat is stored in the liver cells, leading to an inflammatory condition. NAFLD is more common in people who are obese and have type 2 diabetes.
Bariatric surgery can offer heart-healthy benefits because of the positives that occur with weight loss, according to the researchers.
An earlier study by Rostje and colleagues found that bariatric surgery can significantly reduce the risk of cancer — particularly obesity-related cancers — in obese individuals with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
“Although bariatric surgery is a more aggressive approach than lifestyle modifications, it may be associated with other benefits, such as improved quality of life and reduced health care burden in the long term,” Rustje said in a Rutgers news release.
The results were recently published in the journal JAMA Network is open.
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases offers more on weight loss surgery.
Source: Rutgers University – New Brunswick, press release, November 14, 2022