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Heart Disease Health Center

Gastric Bypass Surgery May Help the Heart

Study Shows Heart Function Improves in Obese Patients Who Had Gastric Bypass Surgery
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Effect of Gastric Bypass on the Heart

At the study's start, the average body mass index (BMI) of those who had surgery was 47.9 (30 and higher is termed obese; 40 and up severely obese). The BMI of those who didn't have surgery averaged about 45.

After two years, those who had surgery reduced their BMI by 15.4, while those in the non-surgery group reduced it only slightly, by 0.03.

At the study's start, the average weight of those who had surgery was 299 pounds; at the end of two years, their weight averaged 200 pounds.

The patients who didn't have surgery weighed, on average, 279 pounds at the start and 273 at the end of the study.

The weight loss was associated with either stabilization or partial reversal of the cardiac changes, Litwin found, while continued obesity tended to be linked with a modest progression of the cardiac changes.

In the surgery patients, the left ventricular mass was reduced, Litwin found. The left atrial volume didn't change in the surgery patients, but it increased in those who didn't have surgery. He found improvements in the working of the left and right ventricles in surgery patients.

Those who had surgery also had reductions in blood pressure, heart rate, and bad cholesterol and improvements in insulin resistance and in good cholesterol.

Second Opinion

The new research is ''more detailed and bigger than previous studies," says Bruce M. Wolfe, MD, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, who reviewed the new findings for WebMD.

"This [new study] is more up to date, with detailed parameters from the echo [echocardiogram], and has the comparative group to validate the assumption that you need to lose weight to have the improvements," says Wolfe, a professor of surgery at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

Would the findings apply to other weight reduction surgeries, such as the popular Lap-Band, in which a band is applied to the upper part of the stomach to reduce the amount of food the stomach can hold?

Wolfe suspects so, but cannot say for sure. ''In bariatric surgery there is a variable weight loss response," he says, whatever the procedure used. If those who had Lap-Band had weight losses comparable to what the researchers found in the recent study, he says the same effect on the heart could be possible.

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