Researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that bariatric surgery reduces deaths from cardiovascular causes, such as heart attacks and strokes.
Bariatric surgery, also known as weight-loss surgery, includes a variety of procedures performed on people who are obese. Weight loss is achieved by reducing the size of the stomach with an implanted medical device (gastric banding) or through removal of a portion of the stomach, or by resecting and re-routing the small intestines to a small stomach pouch (gastric bypass surgery).
In the study, more than 2,000 middle-aged obese people underwent surgery. These people were tracked over a 2, 10, 15 and 20 year period.
Over the years, patients who had surgery lost and kept off between 16 and 23 percent of their original body weight. Patients who didn't have surgery stayed about the same weight.
During the follow up, which lasted an average of 14.7 years, the researchers found patients who didn't have surgery suffered more heart disease and more fatal heart attacks and strokes.
The study appeared in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Worth The Risks?
But bypass surgery, like all surgeries, carries risks. In commenting on the study in JAMA, Dr. Edward Livingston, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, wrote "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."