Weight-Loss Surgery Associated with 40% Reduction in Risk of Death and Heart Complications in Patients with Diabetes and Obesity, Study Shows

Patients who underwent surgery also had better diabetes control and used fewer medications than those treated with usual medical care

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PARIS: A large Cleveland Clinic study shows that weight-loss surgery performed in patients with type 2 diabetes and obesity is associated with a lower risk of death and major adverse cardiovascular events than usual medical care. These patients also lost more weight, had better diabetes control, and used fewer medications for treatment of their diabetes and cardiovascular disease than those undergoing usual medical care.

The  observational study looked at nearly 2,300 patients who underwent metabolic surgery and 11,500 matched patients with similar characteristics who received usual medical care. Patients underwent one of four types of weight-loss surgery (also known as metabolic surgery): gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable gastric banding, or duodenal switch.

The results were presented as a late-breaking study today at the European Society of Cardiology Congress and simultaneously published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The primary endpoint of the study was the occurrence of death or one of five major complications associated with obesity and diabetes: coronary artery events, cerebrovascular events, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and kidney disease. Over an eight-year period, patients undergoing metabolic surgery were 40 percent less likely to experience one of these events than those receiving usual medical care. Patients in the surgical group were 41 percent less likely to die from any cause.

“The striking results that we saw after metabolic surgery may be related to the patients’ substantial and sustained weight loss,” said Ali Aminian, M.D., a bariatric surgeon at Cleveland Clinic and lead author of the study. “However, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that there are beneficial metabolic and hormonal changes after these surgical procedures that are independent of weight loss.”

Patients who had metabolic surgery had an average of 15 percent greater weight loss and lower blood sugar levels. They used less diabetes medications, including insulin, and less heart medications such as blood pressure and cholesterol therapies compared with the non-surgery group.

“Cardiovascular complications from obesity and diabetes can be devastating. Now that we’ve seen these remarkable results, a well-designed randomized controlled trial is needed to definitively determine whether metabolic surgery can reduce  the incidence of major heart problems in patients with type 2 diabetes and obesity,” said Steven Nissen, M.D., Chief Academic Officer of the Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic and the study’s senior author.

Nearly 40 percent of Americans have obesity which is linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than those without diabetes.

This study was partially funded by an unrestricted grant from Medtronic. Medtronic had no role in the design, conduct of the study, and reporting of the results.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 77,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,658 salaried physicians and researchers, and 19,000 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,665-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 22 hospitals, more than 275 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2022, there were 12.8 million outpatient encounters, 303,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 270,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

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