Dear parents, take note. Bariatric surgery may halve heart disease risk in obese teens

Obesity and associated risks have significant implications in terms of health care costs and quality of life.

Bariatric surgery can cut in half the risk of premature heart disease and stroke in teenagers with severe obesity, a study has found. The study, based on a prediction model, showed that prior to bariatric surgery the overall risk of a severely obese teen having a fatal or non-fatal heart attack, stroke, heart failure or other heart disease event over a 30-year period was 8 per cent on average.

One year after surgery, the risk of a heart disease event would be cut in half — to 4 per cent overall — and was sustained every year for the five years following surgery. “This study clearly shows that the benefits of bariatric surgery to treat severe obesity, at least from a cardiovascular event perspective, outweighs the risk of having the surgery,” said Justin Ryder, Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Teenagers with severe obesity are at high risk for having a premature cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack, stroke, heart failure and others by the time they are 50, which has significant implications in terms of their health care costs and their quality of life,” Ryder added. For the study, the team assessed 215 participants with an average age of 17 to assess the short and longer-term safety and usefulness of bariatric surgery in teenagers.

“These findings suggest that bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for sustained reduction of weight and risk factors for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes in teenagers with severe obesity,” Ryder said. However, the researchers note that the study is limited because it uses a prediction model that estimates the likelihood of having a heart disease event but does not measure true events. The results were presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2018 in New Orleans.


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