Physician groups issue statement in support of bariatric surgery to reduce heart disease risk

Curbing the risk and incidence of Type 2 diabetes has long been a reason patients turn to bariatric surgery. Now, three physician groups have joined together to publish a scientific statement in support of the use of bariatric surgery to enable the obese to improve cholesterol and lipid levels, which are risk factors in heart disease.

NLA president Dr. Carl Orringer

The National Lipid Association, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and Obesity Medicine Association published this joint statement in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Lipidology. An additional second scientific statement further expounding their views is slated appear in the March/April edition of Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases.

"Patients who have excess weight or obesity may store over 50 percent of their body cholesterol in body fat," said Dr. Carl Orringer, president of the NLA and associate professor of medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, in a statement. "Bariatric procedures that promote body fat loss can reduce cholesterol blood levels, especially bariatric surgeries that result in the greatest amount of weight loss."

"Bariatric surgery is well known to improve diabetes mellitus in patients with obesity," said Dr. Harold Bays, an executive officer of the NLA and lead author. "But what is less well recognized is the beneficial effect bariatric surgery may have on cholesterol levels, which is one of the most important risk factors for heart disease. In fact, it is sometimes forgotten that decades ago, gastrointestinal surgery was proven effective as a treatment for high cholesterol."

OMA president-elect Dr. Wendy Scinta

The move by these groups to highlight the role of bariatric surgery in the reduction of heart attack risk comes at an interesting time in the field. The surgery itself is becoming increasingly less invasive--with endoscopic procedures that don't require any external incisions at the cutting edge. In addition, the FDA has approved three new weight-loss inducing medical devices in the last year or so--with two of these being endoscopically placed balloon systems.

As weight loss surgical and device options become increasingly less invasive and costly that is likely to induce a larger population to use them--now potentially as a means to curb heart attack risk. For both diabetes and heart attack, a relatively small weight loss--not a normal body mass index--is all that's required to reduce risks for a particular individual.

"Disease-reversing weight loss of 10% to 25% of body weight can occur using both medical and surgical means. While as little as 10 percent weight loss may not return an individual with obesity to a normal body mass index (BMI), the beneficial health impacts are well documented and include a profound improvement in lipid profile and reduction in other cardiac risk factors, including blood pressure and fasting glucose levels," concluded Dr. Wendy Scinta, president-elect of the OMA and medical director of Medical Weight Loss of NY.

- here is the announcement and the scientific statement