Veteran Study Shows Significant Survival Benefit From Bariatric Surgery

Research in Older, Male Patients with Comorbidities

By Brenda L. Mooney

DURHAM, NC – While evidence is growing that bariatric surgery can improve survival among the severely obese, past research hasn’t been as useful for some of the patients who would benefit most from weight loss.

Earlier long-term studies have tended to focus on lower-risk, predominantly female patients. But how safe and effective is bariatric surgery in older men with myriad health issues?

A surgery team at the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC in Charleston, SC. Rana Pullatt, MD, director of the VISN 7 Bariatric Surgery Program is on the right. VA photo.

A surgery team at the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC in Charleston, SC. Rana Pullatt, MD, director of the VISN 7 Bariatric Surgery Program is on the right. VA photo.

That’s what a group of researchers set out to determine, using the VA’s database — the only one with extensive information on such a population. Comparing 2,500 veterans, 74% male, who underwent bariatric surgery at the VA from 2000-2011 with 7,462 control patients who did not undergo bariatric surgery, the study found a 53% lower risk of dying from any cause at five to 14 years after the procedure.

More than half, 55%, of the study subjects had diabetes as well as a variety of other comorbidities, including high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease and depression, according to the report published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association.1

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