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Bariatric surgery may help protect teen patients’ hearts

New Stanford research hints that bariatric surgery, which is known to decrease a patient's risk of cardiovascular disease, may be more protective of the heart for teens than for adults. From Booster Shots:

Dr. John M. Morton, a bariatric surgeon at Stanford, and his colleagues studied 99 adults and 33 adolescents who underwent gastric bypass surgery at Stanford from 2004-10. The adults had an average age of 44.4 years and an average body mass index or BMI of 52.3, indicating that they were severely overweight. The adolescents had an average age of 17 and an average BMI of 52.7. The team examined a variety of biochemical markers, "things that help predict whether someone is going to have a heart attack down the road," Morton said. The markers included diabetes status, blood pressure, lipid levels, cholesterol levels, C-reactive protein and homocysteine (an amino acid) levels in the blood. "The results were eye-opening for us," he said.

In the 12 months of follow-up, both groups lost about 70 percent of their excess weight, although the teens lost slightly more. "Everyone did well, and got substantial reductions in risk factors," Morton said, but teens did even better. They showed a higher improvement in high-density lipoproteins (the so-called good cholesterol) and sharper drops in homocysteine levels and fasting glucose, which is a marker for diabetes. They did especially well in reducing levels of C-reactive protein, "which is probably the most predictive of all risk factors," he said. Normal levels of C-reactive protein are below 3.0. The teens' average levels went from 7 to 1.4.

Previously: Gastric banding surgery gaining popularity among California teens

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