Bariatric surgery: Cutting heart attack risk

Published: June 7, 2022 5:28 PM EDT
Updated: June 8, 2022 1:38 PM EDT

Every year, almost 300,000 Americans choose bariatric surgery, or gastric bypass surgery, to help them lose significant amounts of weight. Now, there’s a new study showing surprising benefits.

Almost 83 million Americans have one form of cardiovascular disease. Every year, 805,000 Americans have a heart attack.

Now, a new study by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic suggests that weight loss surgery may significantly reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event, even among seniors.

Bariatric surgery, or gastric bypass surgery, has been proven to help patients lose dramatic amounts of weight, in some cases, up to 100 pounds in the first year, and experience other health benefits, too.

Now, researchers have found significant cardiovascular benefits.

Staff in the clinical cardiology at the Heart Vascular and Thoracic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic and assistant professor at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Dr. Amgad Mentias says, “Patients with obesity who underwent bariatric surgery had a significantly lower risk of death and new-onset, heart failure and heart attack and stroke.”

Researchers looked at the health outcomes of 95,000 Medicare patients and found that bariatric surgery had a preventive effect on all ages, including those aged 65 to 75. It’s a patient population that hasn’t been extensively studied.

“The amount of risk reduction in these patients were impressive. As I mentioned, it was more than 30 percent for most of the outcomes,” Dr. Mentias explains.

The researchers say the findings indicate the health consequences of obesity on the cardiovascular system are reversible when patients lose significant weight and keep it off.

Dr. Mentias says just 1% of patients who could benefit from bariatric surgery undergo a weight loss procedure. He says the study findings suggest doctors and patients might consider bariatric surgery if lifestyle, diet, and other measures aren’t working.