Bariatric Surgery Continues to Show Benefits for Patients With Diabetes

Chicago— Studies continue to show benefits of bariatric surgery in helping obese patients lose weight, but whether the procedure can actually “control or cure” those who have gone on to have diabetes remains to be seen.
New research found bariatric surgery along with optimal medical therapy offered better glycemic control than optimal medical therapy alone for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston presented the newest findings on the procedure in March at the scientific session of the American College of Cardiology. The team found that in obese patients with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, those undergoing bariatric surgery and optimal medical therapy were more likely to have achieved glycemic control at 1 year than those receiving optimal medical therapy only (Schauer PR et al. N Eng J Med. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1200225 [published online March 26, 2012]). The bariatric surgeries were so successful that many who underwent the procedure were able to reduce or eliminate the medicines they were taking to control their diabetes.

The researchers followed up 41 patients receiving optimal medical therapy only, 50 obese patients receiving the therapy plus Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, and 49 patients receiving therapy plus sleeve gastrectomy. At the start of the study, the patients had an average glycated hemoglobin level of about 9.2%, an average age of 49 years, and an average body mass index (BMI) of about 37; 66% were women. At 12 months, 12% of patients receiving medical therapy only had reached the study’s primary end point of achieving an average glycated hemoglobin level of 6.0% or less, while 42% undergoing gastric bypass and 37% undergoing sleeve gastrectomy reached the goal level. Also, although patients in all 3 study groups lost weight, those receiving only medical therapy lost an average of 5.4 kg, while those undergoing gastric bypass lost about 29 kg, and those undergoing sleeve gastrectomy lost about 25 kg.
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