Though weight-loss surgery can do wonders for your waistline, a new study suggests it might also reverse subtle damage to your heart.
The research included 38 obese patients who had weight-loss surgery and 19 obese patients who were on the waiting list for weight-loss surgery.
At the start of the study, 58 percent of patients in the surgery group had subclinical heart disease -- which means changes to the heart and its function before actual heart disease starts. In 82 percent of those patients, subclinical heart dysfunction normalized six months after surgery.
But subclinical heart disease worsened in 53 percent of patients on the waiting list during the same period.
Other measures also spoke to the benefits of weight-loss surgery.
After six months of follow-up, the patients in the surgery group had lost 26 percent of their total body weight, while those on the waiting list stayed the same weight. Rates of obesity-related health problems in the surgery group were: high blood pressure, 30 percent; type 2 diabetes, 13 percent, and dyslipidemia (high cholesterol or triglycerides), 5 percent.
Meanwhile, rates among patients on the waiting list were 61 percent for high blood pressure, 40 percent for type 2 diabetes, and 42 percent for dyslipidemia.
The findings were to be presented Thursday at the European Society of Cardiology annual meeting, in Vienna, Austria. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
"We show that abnormal subclinical heart function in obese patients is common. Early [six months] after bariatric [weight-loss] surgery, it normalizes in more than 80 percent of patients and is comparable to normal weight controls," said study author Dr. Marie-Eve Piche, from the Quebec Heart and Lung Institute.
"Obesity-related [problems] also got better," she added in a meeting news release. "Interestingly, remission of type 2 diabetes after bariatric surgery was associated with improvement in subclinical heart function. Conversely, obese individuals with type 2 diabetes who remained on the surgical waiting list showed a worsening in their subclinical [heart] function during follow-up."
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more on weight-loss surgery.
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