Weight Loss Surgery for Older Americans

A new study published in the Archives of Surgery found no difference between outcomes of patients younger or older than 60 years who underwent gastric by-pass surgery. This study at the Western Reserve University Medical Center, followed 900 patients after having gastric by-pass surgery. The researchers found, "no differences in outcomes between older vs younger nor for Medicare vs non-Medicare patients for any postoperative complication or mortality." There were no mortalities among 46 patients 60 years and older a year after surgery.

As the older population increases, so does the portion that is obese. Obesity, which is a health risk at any age, is particularly detrimental to the elderly population. Obesity in older persons can speed up the rate of decline in physical function, and increase frailty. A recent report in the Journal of American Medical Association estimated that obesity might be responsible for a 5-year decrease in life expectancy.

Obesity surgery has typically been limited for the most part to younger patients, as there were concerns about mortality rates in older patients. For the elder patients in this study, extra screening was done prior to selection, including being tested for sleep apnea, seeing a cardiologist, and a lung care specialist.


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