Bariatric Surgery Effective for Treating Diabetes, Study Shows

weight lossTwo types of bariatric surgery are each more effective than intensive medical therapy alone in their ability to manage uncontrolled type 2 diabetes in obese patients, a new study finds.

In fact, some patients struggling with obesity who had one of two types of bariatric surgery no longer required any medications for diabetes, including insulin, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the annual meeting for the American College of Cardiology.

Not only did patients enjoy a better quality of life but they also needed fewer medications for controlling cholesterol and high blood pressure, a news release states.

The study followed 150 obese patients for three years after they had surgery or were enrolled in a diet and exercise program with nutritional counseling. All of them had type 2 diabetes for at least eight years. Many of them were taking three drugs for diabetes and at least three heart medications.

More than two-thirds of the patients were women between to the ages of 41 and 57 who were also mildly to moderately obese.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic compared the effects of having one of two types of weight loss surgery to losing weight through diet and exercise and nutritional counseling.

The results showed that more than 37 percent of patients who had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery and 25 percent of those who had a sleeve gastrectomy procedure no longer needed diabetes medicines.

Only five percent in the group that relied on changing diet and exercise were able to lower their blood sugar levels down to a level recommended by the American Diabetes Association.

“Both surgical options maintain their supremacy over standard intensive medical therapy at the three-year mark,” said Dr. Philip Schauer, professor of surgery, director of the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, Cleveland Clinic, and lead investigator of the study. While the medical group showed an initial improvement in glycemic control within the first year, they were almost back to baseline by year three, the news release states. “Their [blood glucose level] went from 9.5 at the start of the study and dropped as low as 7.5 and then back up to 8.4 percent,” Schauer said.

In contrast, the surgical groups were able to maintain a lower glucose level with an average 2.5 percent reduction (9.3 at baseline and 6.7 and 7.0 for gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy at year three), the study found.

Source: American College of Cardiology news release

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+ Take control of type 2 diabetes. Read about diabetes care plans.

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