Overlapping Hearts

Bariatric Surgery Can Protect Teen Hearts

In severe obesity, teen hearts are at risk. High blood pressure, cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes can begin harming these young people early in life. But a new study published yesterday in Pediatrics confirms that bariatric surgery can resolve these risk factors for teens.

An 85% Drop in Teens with ≥ 3 Risk Factors

At the start of this study, a third of the 242 participating teens had three or more risks for heart disease. Those factors included blood pressure, insulin levels, unhealthy cholesterol, diabetes, and C-reactive protein. Three years after surgery, only 5 percent still had three or more of those risks.

Lead author Marc Michalsky called these results “compelling.” He said:

The potential impact of such risk reduction translates into a reduced likelihood of developing significant heart disease later in life, including atherosclerosis, heart failure and stroke. This study serves to reinforce the benefits of bariatric surgery as a safe and effective treatment strategy that should be considered sooner rather than later.

And in fact, younger patients in this study showed the greatest benefit to their health.

In light of these results, it’s appalling that health plans will often stall on approving these procedures for teens who need them. Why? Because it saves them money. When plans initially deny coverage, they most often wind up paying for the procedures eventually. But it’s a tactic that postpones the expense. And some families give up.

For adolescents with severe obesity, this denial of needed care makes Scrooge look like a philanthropist. It must stop.

Click here for the study and here for more from NPR. For a well reported account of one teen’s experience with bariatric surgery, click here.

Overlapping Hearts, photograph © Jolene Knapp / flickr

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January 9, 2018

One Response to “Bariatric Surgery Can Protect Teen Hearts”

  1. January 10, 2018 at 4:19 pm, Allen Browne said:

    Yup – powerful data regarding how bariatric surgery can improve present and future health. Now the trick is to figure out the mechanism – weight loss, weight loss plus, a healthier BMI, ??? – and put it in a pill.