Dr. Elie Goldenberg

Experts from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital are ready to answer readers’ questions. Send your questions to askthedoc@rwjbh.org.

I have heard being obese leads to heart disease. Will bariatric surgery help reduce my risk of heart disease?

This month, February, is American Heart Month, a federally designated event to remind Americans to focus on their heart health. One component to heart health is managing weight, especially excess weight carried around the waist, which is associated with increased heart-related risks. Obesity, as a general term, means you have too much body fat, and are 20 percent or more above your ideal body weight.

As mentioned earlier, too much fat around the waist, puts you at a higher risk for health issues, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, and diabetes. As a result of these risks, obesity does put you at a higher risk for heart disease and possibly, even stroke.

The American Heart Association recommends people diagnosed as obese participate in medically-supervised weight loss programs for at least six months to help them lose weight in a safe way, as well as lower their risk of heart disease and other complications.

However, for severely obese patients, who may already have some health problems, weight loss surgery may be a viable option.

There are several bariatric surgery options, including the LAP-BAND, gastric sleeve or gastric bypass, so it is important to consult with a bariatric surgeon to learn which is the right option for you. Recent data reported in a May 2017 Journal of the American Heart Association from the Geisinger Obesity Institute showed that “weight-loss surgery cut the long-term risk of heart failure by more than half in obese patients without a history of heart disease or stroke.”

While this was the first published study of bariatric surgery’s capacity to prevent heart failure, there have been many other studies that have shown this connection. Through bariatric surgeries, patients were able to reduce their weight, and their secondary risk factors, which led to a lowered risk for heart failure and heart disease.

If you would like to learn more about bariatric surgery, contact Dr. Elie Goldenberg at (609) 631-1001 or on rwjpe.com.

For information about cardiac services offered by RWJBarnabas Health, visit rwjbh.org/heart.

—Dr. Elie Goldenberg, General and Bariatric Surgery, RWJ Surgical Associates

This content is intended to encourage a healthy lifestyle. For medical advice and treatment, see a physician. Concerned about your health? Send your questions to askthe doc@rwjbh.org.