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May 25, 2016

Weight Loss Surgery Helps Treat Obese Patients with Type 2 Diabetes

Patients undergoing surgery were 5 times more likely to have ideal blood sugar control and also saw improvements in other heart health markers.

Weight loss surgery improves blood sugar control in overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes, according to research presented in April at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Annual Scientific Sessions.

Conducted at the Cleveland Clinic, the STAMPEDE trial (Surgical Therapy and Medications Potentially Eradicate Diabetes Efficiently) assessed the risks and benefits of weight loss surgery in patients with diabetes.

It’s well established that weight loss improves blood sugar control in patients with diabetes. However, few studies have shown whether weight loss surgery is both safe and effective for treating patients with diabetes.

Through the STAMPEDE trial, a total of 150 overweight or obese patients with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to weight loss surgery plus standard therapy, or standard therapy alone. Among those individuals receiving weight loss surgery, half underwent gastric bypass while the other received sleeve gastrectomy.

After following participants for five years, researchers found that participants receiving weight loss surgery were 5–6 times more likely to have ideal blood sugar control than those on standard therapy.

Patients receiving weight loss surgery also saw improvements in heart health markers like blood pressure and cholesterol and were also less likely to need heart and diabetes medications than those receiving standard care. Researchers also found that quality of life measures, such as general health and energy levels improved significantly in the surgery group, but showed little change in patients receiving standard therapy.

Of course, authors admit that further research is needed before applying results of the trial to the general population. The STAMPEDE trial was conducted at a single center with one surgeon performing weight loss procedures. Therefore, larger studies from multiple centers are needed to confirm findings.

Still, findings are encouraging, according to authors. Diabetes currently affects more than 29 million Americans, many of whom are overweight or obese. While weight loss improves diabetes control, losing weight can be a challenge. With further evidence, weight loss surgery may be a very useful option in treating both diabetes and obesity.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How does weight-loss surgery work?

  • There are a few types of weight-loss procedures available to help patients who are very overweight lose weight, including lap banding, gastric bypass and gastric sleeve. These surgeries limit the amount of food that you can ingest, and some also restrict the amount of food that your body can digest.
  • Why is blood sugar control important for patients with diabetes?
  • Keeping blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible can help prevent or slow the progress of many complications of diabetes. To get tight control, you should pay attention to diet and exercise, keep close track of blood glucose levels, and if you take insulin, closely manage your injection schedule.

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