Of the many intriguing finds that premiered at 2019’s European Society of Cardiology’s annual meeting, one, in particular, illuminates new encouraging implications attributed to bariatric surgery.
A new study presented yesterday conducted by a team of researchers led by Dr. Ali Aminian, associate professor of surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, posits that gastric bypass surgery effectively promotes healthy gut bacteria, in addition to mitigating several early death risk factors associated with diabetes and obesity.
“It’s not just one factor. Weight loss is important, the gut hormones are important, and the microbiome is important,” Dr. Arminian told TIME magazine. “They all work together like an orchestra to improve the metabolic condition of the patient.”
The benefits extend beyond weight-loss and diet
The average run of the mill adult stomach can hold about 1.5 liters of food. Gastric bypass surgery works by creating a small upper stomach pouch, limiting the amount of food one can consume before feeling full, supplying obese patients with a biological impediment to overeating. The new paper astonishingly proves that not only does this procedure and similar gastroplasty procedures like it, ensure weight loss, they also affect hormones important to insulin production, blood sugar levels and the prevention of heart attacks and strokes.
The report was concurrently published in the JAMA Network on the same day it was presented with the World Congress of Cardiology. The researchers began by analyzing over 2,000 obese patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. Of these that underwent some form of weight loss surgery, instances of hospitalization due to heart-related events declined by nearly 40% over the course of an ensuing eight-year follow up. Additionally, deaths from any cause decreased by more than 40% compared to members from the same study pool that had not undergone surgery.
“There are neurohormonal changes we see after these procedures that could have significant metabolic effects and benefits for patients,” explained Dr. Arminian.
These results suggest that health benefits are not funded by weight loss alone. Following the procedure, insulin production in beta cells seemed to be restored. In fact, patients that required non-insulin diabetic treatments decreased from 80% to roughly 40%. In order to test gastric bypass surgery’s effect on gut bacteria, Dr. Arminian administered fecal samples from obese human patients before and after bariatric surgery into mice. Mice that received particles from the former, developed diabetes and fatty liver syndrome, while mice that received samples from the latter did not. One patient involved in the study, named Carolyn Auckerman, aged 57, not only shed 130 pounds after her bypass, she no longer lives with type 2 diabetes.
“What we saw was pretty astonishing,” Dr. Nissen told CBS news. “These people had fewer heart attacks and strokes and kidney failure and heart failure. If we can find ways to help people lose weight,” Nissen added, “Then all of these effects of obesity on heart health are potentially reversible.”