February is Heart and Stroke Month

H&S logo

According to the 2016 Report on The Health of Canadians by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, being obese puts you at a higher risk for health problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and more.

Obesity’s negative impact on health has been compared to those of tobacco and alcohol. Although obesity is not known to cause heart failure, “obese patients with a BMI above 35 are at higher risk of developing stiff or clogged arteries, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol— all risk factors for heart failure” said Philip Schauer, M.D., professor of surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and director of the Cleveland Clinic Bariatric and Metabolic Institute.

Today, nearly 70% of adults in North America are classified as overweight or obese compared with fewer than 25% 40 years ago. These individuals have an increased cardiovascular risk, which is not adequately controlled by current practice.  

The journal Current Opinion in Cardiology states that “obesity is a modifiable and preventable cardiac risk factor, but that management of this disorder remains both challenging and vexing to clinicians. To prevent cardiovascular disease we must find ways to decrease the rising prevalence of obesity and to help overweight individuals achieve and sustain weight loss.”

Weight loss surgery can help you achieve sustained weight loss, and provide cardiovascular health improvements including 80% resolution of high blood pressure, and 71% to 94% resolution of high cholesterol.* It can also cut the long-term risk of heart failure by more than half in obese patients without a history of heart disease or stroke, a new study led by Peter N. Benotti, M.D., senior clinical investigator at Geisinger Obesity Institute in Danville, Pennsylvania shows.

Despite being the first published evidence of bariatric surgery’s ability to prevent heart failure, the new study is not the first to show the connection. Preliminary results of a Scandinavian study presented at a medical conference in November 2016 found bariatric surgery cut the risk of heart failure by almost half after four years.

Researchers compared 25,804 bariatric surgery patients in a Scandinavian obesity surgery registry to 13,701 Swedish nationwide registry patients who used an intensive structured lifestyle-modification program. Both groups had no history of heart failure before starting treatment and body mass indices greater than 30 and weighed on average 119 kilograms/262.35 pounds before treatment.

They found:

  • Four years after start of treatment, the risk of heart failure was nearly 50 percent lower in the bariatric surgery group.
  • The rate of death and heart attack was similar between the treatment groups.
  • However, patients in the bariatric surgery group had fewer incidences of atrial fibrillation, diabetes and hypertension.
  • The bariatric surgery group lost more weight than those in the intensive lifestyle modification program. Obesity surgery led to 41 pounds more weight loss than lifestyle treatment after one year, and nearly 50 pounds more weight loss after two years.


The lifestyle modification program participants consumed a very low-energy diet of 500 calories a day for three to 10 weeks followed by two to eight weeks of gradual incorporation of food and then nine months of a weight-maintenance regimen that included regular exercise, dietary advice and behavioral therapy. Around 20 percent of patients in the lifestyle modification program dropped out by the first year.

“Our study shows an association between obesity and heart failure and offers support for efforts to prevent and treat obesity aggressively, including the use of bariatric surgery,” said Johan Sundstrom, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study and professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden. “Bariatric surgery might affect the incidence of atrial fibrillation, diabetes and hypertension — known risk factors of heart failure — explaining the lower risk of heart failure we observed.”


If you’d like to learn more about how a bariatric procedure might help you to gain better heart health, get in touch with one of our Program Advisors today at (888) 278-7952 or Connect through our website at https://www.smartshape.ca/connect-today/

*Results may vary between individuals and depending on type of surgery received. References can be provided upon request.