Death After Bariatric Surgery in Extremely Obese Examined

Study finds extremely obese at higher risk of death within one year of bariatric surgery
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- In patients who undergo bariatric surgery, extreme obesity and a high burden of chronic disease is associated with an increased risk of death within one year post-surgery, according to a study in the October issue of the Archives of Surgery.

David Arterburn, M.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues studied 856 veterans (mean age, 54 years) who underwent bariatric surgery between 2000 and 2006. The researchers observed that 73 percent were men and 83.9 percent were Caucasian, with a mean body mass index of 48.7 and a mean diagnostic cost group (DCG) score of 0.76. The investigators also noted that 7 percent of subjects had an American Society of Anesthesiology class equal to four.

By the end of 2006, 6.3 percent of the subjects had died. The researchers found that an increased risk of death was strongly associated with a body mass index of 50 and above, and a DCG score of at least 2 (hazard ratios, 1.8 and 3.4, respectively).

"Our findings indicate that superobese veterans and those with a high burden of chronic disease (reflected in DCG scores ≥2) are significantly more likely to die within one year of bariatric surgery than their healthier peers," the authors conclude. "The results of this study should inform discussions with patients with regard to the potential risks and benefits of bariatric surgery."

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