Patients who have bariatric surgery or weight-loss surgery can improve their heart health and reduce their risk for heart disease.
In 9 out of 10 patients, weight-loss surgery can improve blood sugar and heart function. Surgery can lower blood pressure, cholesterol and reduce sleep apnea. Also, the American Heart Association supports weight-loss surgery for obese people who cannot lose weight by traditional methods.
Additionally, a Cleveland Clinic study shows bariatric surgery contributes to the reduction of acute care for heart failure, coronary artery disease and hypertension that happens long after the weight-loss surgery.
The results indicate that patients who had bariatric surgery had lower death rates after a heart attack and stroke. In addition, hospital stays were reduced for patients who had weight-loss surgery and had later heart events. “This shows that even if the patient has a heart attack or a stroke, the patient who has had bariatric surgery before that event will survive better,” said Dr. Ali Aminian, a Cleveland Clinic bariatric surgeon.
Also, a study by the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery suggests that reduction to heart attack risk can last as long as 7 years. In March 2020, the European Heart Journal published the largest study of bariatric patients. That study found 60% fewer fatal and non-fatal heart attacks and strokes for an average of 11 years after surgery.
Cardiac Rehabilitation and Weight Loss
The American Heart Association recognizes cardiac rehabilitation services as a medically supervised program designed to improve heart health. It has three parts: exercise, heart-healthy living and stress reduction.
One way to reduce risk factors include weight loss, which can help lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol and blood sugar. According to an article in Chest Journal, obesity stems from genetic, biological and behavioral factors. Studies have also found that treatments to achieve weight loss, such as diet, lifestyle and behavioral therapy, are ineffective in treating obesity and cardiovascular risk in the long term. Challenges to these treatments are common in morbidly obese patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 40.
A study published in Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine found that substantial weight loss achieved with bariatric surgery can prevent morbidities related to a variety of cardiovascular diseases, such as myocardial infarction, stroke, heart failure and hypertension.
How Weight-loss Surgery Benefits the Heart
Obese patients who already have a history of heart disease can benefit from weight-loss surgery. With evaluation, cardiologists and bariatric surgeons can determine the safety and risk of surgery for obese patients with existing heart conditions. Patients with heart conditions are often unable to exercise and have little chance of significant weight loss.
Bariatric surgery even helped patients unable to have heart transplants due to high BMI. For some, losing weight improved heart function enough that they no longer needed a transplant.
The success of weight-loss surgery includes follow-up and post-bariatric care. Post-surgery exercise is critical to maintain muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness. Supplements and vitamins are essential to maintain proper, balanced nutrition.