Obesity is a growing problem in the developing world, and different solutions are being explored to combat this. One of these solutions is found in the different forms of weight loss surgery. Thanks to gastric sleeve surgery, for instance, patients can now lose as much as 75% to 80% of their excess body weight. That is a significant amount of weight loss, particularly when you consider that around 75% of total weight loss is achieved in the first year following the procedure itself. And it gets better, so long as a patient doesn’t experience any complications, and strictly follows the guidelines of their physician and nutritionist, they may lose up to 90% of their excess weight just five years after having had the surgery.
The Benefits of Rapid Weight Loss
We are often told that rapid weight loss is not good for us. While this is true in regular, healthy individuals, it isn’t for the obese. By quickly lowering their weight so that they fall in a normal range of BMI, they made sure that they reduce their chances of development many other diseases, some of which are fatal. Common diseases associated with obesity include:
Shortness of breath.
All of these can be fully resolved by losing weight. Additionally, sustained weight loss prevents people from developing dangerous diseases such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and more. One study looked at 500 individual patients, and it was found that, in 96% of cases, other health conditions were resolved or improved.
Although the gastric sleeve is a procedure that has the potential to save lives, it is not one without risk. Around one in every 300 people who have the procedure will die as a result of surgery. Often, this is due to various complications. This is why the surgery will only be offered to those with a low complications rate, or to those who are so severely obese that they have started to develop dangerous comorbidity disorders like heart problems or type 2 diabetes.
Once you have had surgery, you have to take it easy for a while. You must make sure that the incision site is properly protected. This means, for instance, no heavy lifting for a while, as this could rupture the wound. At the same time, you must remember that you have had surgery, which means there are wounds, and wounds can become infected. Making sure you protect yourself from that is hugely important. Proper hygiene is vital, and some people have even asked people not to enter their homes until they have washed their hands with an alcohol rub. This may seem a bit excessive, but if there is any reason why you may be at increased risk of infection, it may be necessary while your wounds heal.
When reading through potential complications, it often sounds as if the entire procedure is a bad idea (have you ever read the side effects on any medication?). However, if a surgeon agrees that you are a good candidate, it means that the benefits of the surgery by far outweigh the potential risks.
New data suggests that two common painkillers, ibuprofen and diclofenac, can slightly increase the risk of heart problems if taken in high doses for a long time.
People with severe arthritis often take the drugs, which also calm inflammation, to go about daily life.
The researchers said some patients would deem the risk acceptable, but they should be given the choice.
A study, published in the Lancet, showed the drugs posed even greater risks for smokers and the overweight.
The risks have been reported before, but a team of researchers at the University of Oxford analyzed the issue in unprecedented detail in order to help patients make an informed choice.
The group investigated more than 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials to assess the impact of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
They looked at high-dose prescriptions levels, rather than over-the-counter pain relief, of 150 mg diclofenac or 2,400 mg ibuprofen each day.
They showed that for every 1,000 people taking the drugs there would be three additional heart attacks, four more cases of heart failure and one death as well cases of stomach bleeding – every year as a result of taking the drugs.
Common painkillers ibuprofen and diclofenac can slightly increase the risk of heart problems if taken in high doses for a long time
So the number of heart attacks would increase from eight per 1,000 people per year normally, to 11 per 1,000 people per year with the drugs.
“Three per thousand per year sounds like it is quite a low risk, but the judgement has to be made by patients,” said lead researcher Prof. Colin Baigent.
He added: “So if you’re a patient and you go and sit in front of your doctor and discuss it, you are the one who should be making the judgement about whether three per thousand per year is worth it to allow you, potentially, to go about your daily life.”
He said this should not concern people taking a short course of these drugs, for example for headaches.
However, he did warn that those already at risk of heart problems would be at even greater risk as a result of the high-dose drugs.
High blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking all increase the risk of heart problems.
Prof. Colin Baigent said: “The higher your risk of heart disease, the higher your risk of a complication. Roughly speaking, if you’ve got double the risk of heart disease, then the risk of having a heart attack is roughly doubled.”
He said patients should consider ways to reduce their risk, which could include statins for some patients.
A similar drug called rofecoxib (known as Vioxx), was voluntarily taken off the market by its manufacturer in 2004 after similar concerns were raised.
A third drug, naproxen, had lower risks of heart complications in the study and some doctors are prescribing this to higher-risk patients.
The drug does a similar job to aspirin by stopping the blood from clotting although this also increases the odds of a stomach bleed.
Women who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may cut their risk of heart problems, a study suggests, but experts are still cautious about long-term safety risks.
Published in the journal BMJ, the study also found HRT is not associated with an increased risk of cancer or stroke – but past studies have shown a link.
The Department of Health advises women to only use it on a short-term basis.
The researchers traced 1,000 women over 10 years – half of them were on HRT.
Talking about their findings, the paper’s authors said: “HRT had significantly reduced risk of mortality, heart failure, or heart attack, without any apparent increase of cancer, deep vein thrombosis or stroke.”
However, they stressed that “due to the potential time lag, longer time may be necessary to take more definite conclusions”.
Safety concerns about the long-term use of the therapy has been debated by academics over the past decade.
The women in the study were aged between 45-58 years old and recently menopausal – those on treatment started it soon after menopausal symptoms began.
HRT replaces female hormones that are no longer produced during the menopause and can help with hot flushes, insomnia, headaches and irritability.
After 10 years, 33 women in the group that had not taken HRT had died or suffered from heart failure or a heart attack, compared with just 16 women who were taking the treatment.
Thirty-six women in the HRT group were treated for cancer compared to 39 who had not taken HRT – of which 17 cases were breast cancer compared to 10 in the HRT group.
They also found that after stopping the therapy, the women continued to see health benefits for six years.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine said: “This is a very significant piece of research and should reassure the millions of women who turn to hormone therapy for relief of their menopausal symptoms.
“Although the study was not large, the long-term follow-up of 16 years is reassuring as there was no increase in adverse events including cancer.
“This should not be considered the last word on the effects of hormone therapy. More research is needed.”
A series of previous studies has linked HRT with a higher risk of breast cancer and heart attack.
A large study which initiated the discussion and looked at a million women, suggested taking it for several years doubled a women’s risk of developing breast cancer.
Weighing up the evidence from numerous past studies, some experts warn that this new BMJ study does not mean that HRT can now be considered safe.
A new research has found that getting enough exercise in midlife will help protect your heart.
Even those who make the switch in their late 40s and 50s can still benefit, the study of over 4,000 people suggests.
And it need not be hard toil in a gym – gardening and brisk walks count towards the required 2.5 hours of moderate activity per week, say experts.
But more work is needed since the study looked at markers linked to heart problems and not heart disease itself.
A new research has found that getting enough exercise in midlife will help protect your heart
And it relied on people accurately reporting how much exercise they did – something people tend to overestimate rather than underestimate.
In the study, which is published in the journal Circulation, people who did the recommended 2.5 hours of exercise a week had the lower levels of inflammatory markers in their blood.
Inflammatory markers are important, say experts, because high levels have been linked to increased heart risk.
People who said they consistently stuck to the recommended amount of exercise for the entire 10-year study had the lowest inflammatory levels overall.
But even those who said they only started doing the recommended amount of exercise when they were well into their 40s saw an improvement and had lower levels of inflammation than people who said they never did enough exercise.
The findings were unchanged when the researchers took into consideration other factors, such as obesity and smoking, that could have influenced the results.
Dr. Mark Hamer, of University College London, who led the research, said: “We should be encouraging more people to get active – for example, walking instead of taking the bus. You can gain health benefits from moderate activity at any time in your life.”
Maureen Talbot of the British Heart Foundation, which funded the work, said: “Donning your gardening gloves or picking up a paint brush can still go a long way to help look after your heart health, as exercise can have a big impact on how well your heart ages.
“This research highlights the positive impact changing your exercise habits can have on the future of your heart health – and that it’s never too late to re-energize your life.
“However it’s important not to wait until you retire to get off the couch, as being active for life is a great way to keep your heart healthy.”
A new research suggests that shift workers are slightly more at risk of having a heart attack or stroke than day workers.
An analysis of studies involving more than 2 million workers in the British Medical Journal said shift work can disrupt the body clock and have an adverse effect on lifestyle.
It has previously been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.
Limiting night shifts would help workers cope, experts said.
The team of researchers from Canada and Norway analyzed 34 studies.
A new research suggests that shift workers are slightly more at risk of having a heart attack or stroke than day workers
In total, there were 17,359 coronary events of some kind, including cardiac arrests, 6,598 heart attacks and 1,854 strokes caused by lack of blood to the brain.
These events were more common in shift workers than in other people.
The BMJ study calculated that shift work was linked to a 23% increased risk of heart attack, 24% increased risk of coronary event and 5% increased risk of stroke.
But they also said shift work was not linked to increased mortality rates from heart problems and that the relative risks associated with heart problems were “modest”.
The researchers took the socio-economics status of the workers, their diet and general health into account in their findings.
Dan Hackam, associate professor at Western University, London Ontario in Canada, said shift workers were more prone to sleeping and eating badly.
“Night shift workers are up all the time and they don’t have a defined rest period. They are in a state of perpetual nervous system activation which is bad for things like obesity and cholesterol,” he said.
The authors say that screening programmes could help identify and treat risk factors for shift workers, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
They add that shift workers could also be educated about what symptoms to look our for, which might indicate early heart problems.
Jane White, research and information services manager at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, said there are complex issues surrounding shift work.
“It can result in disturbed appetite and digestion, reliance on sedatives and, or stimulants, as well as social and domestic problems.
“These can affect performance, increase the likelihood of errors and accidents at work, and even have a negative effect on health.”
She said the effects of shift work needed to be well-managed.
“Avoiding permanent night shifts, limiting shifts to a maximum of 12 hours and ensuring workers have a minimum of two full nights sleep between day and night shifts are simple, practical solutions that can help people to cope with shift work.”
Ellen Mason, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said the increased risk to an individual shift worker “was relatively small”.
“But many Brits don’t work nine to five and so these findings becomes much more significant.
“Whether you work nights, evenings or regular office hours, eating healthily, getting active and quitting smoking can make a big difference to your heart health.”