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Researchers discovered that bariatric surgery reduces risk of heart disease

by Pragati Singh

According to a Rutgers study of obese persons with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and morbid obesity (body mass index > 40), those who had bariatric surgery had considerably fewer serious cardiovascular events in the years that followed.
The findings were published in JAMA Network Open, and the Rutgers team revealed that obese individuals receiving bariatric surgery were roughly 50% less likely to experience adverse cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, angina, or strokes.

“The findings provide evidence in support of bariatric surgery as an effective therapeutic tool to lower elevated risk of cardiovascular disease for select individuals with obesity and NAFLD,” said Vinod K. Rustgi, Distinguished Professor of Medicine, clinical director of Hepatology and director of the Center for Liver Diseases and Liver Masses at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

“These findings are extremely significant for a variety of reasons.” Heart disease is the top cause of mortality for both men and women in the United States, regardless of race or ethnicity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 697,000 persons in the United States died from heart disease in 2020. NAFLD and its more advanced variant, NASH, are both fast rising forms of liver disease that can affect persons who use little to no alcohol. The illness is more frequent in persons with obesity and type 2 diabetes because too much fat is deposited in liver cells, causing an inflammatory state.

Researchers used the MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters medical insurance database to assess outcomes data from 2007 to 2017. Of the 230 million people covered, 86,964 persons aged 18 to 64 with obesity and NAFLD were found. The research group included of 68 percent females, 35 percent underwent bariatric surgery, and 65 percent got nonsurgical therapy.

Patients who underwent bariatric surgery had a 49 percent lower chance of experiencing serious cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, heart failure, or ischemic strokes. They were also considerably less likely to suffer from angina, atherosclerosis, or arterial blood clots.

According to the researchers, the relationship between bariatric surgery and lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease has never been investigated in such depth. There is mounting evidence that bariatric surgery, due to the weight loss it induces in patients, has significant health advantages. A study done by Rustgi and colleagues, which was published in the journal Gastroenterology in March 2021, found that bariatric surgery can considerably lower the incidence of cancer, particularly obesity-related malignancies, in obese persons with NAFLD. Colorectal, pancreatic, endometrial, thyroid, multiple myeloma, and hepatocellular carcinoma were among the malignancies studied.

“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 decreased long-term health care burden,” Rustgi said.

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