Gastric bypass promotes heart health in teens

May 17, 2011, 2:01 a.m.
Gastric bypass promotes heart health in teens
(SERENITY NGUYEN/The Stanford Daily)

Gastric bypass surgery for obese teens may be even more effective at reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease than it is for adults who undergo the same procedure, according to a recent study from the School of Medicine led by bariatric surgeon John Morton.

The study involved 99 adult patients and 33 adolescents who underwent gastric bypass at Stanford between 2004 and 2010. The adults in this group were, on average, 44.4 years old and had a body mass index (BMI) of 52.3, while the adolescents were, on average, 17 years old and had a BMI of 52.7. BMIs more than 25 are considered obese; these patients were described as “severely overweight.”

Although both groups lost approximately the same amount of weight after their surgery, the teenage patients had a greater improvement in several biochemical markers thought to be predictive of heart problems. Some of the markers the researchers tracked include cholesterol levels, diabetes status and blood pressure. The teenage group showed higher levels of “good” cholesterol and sharper drops in fasting glucose — slower drops are an indicator of diabetes.

By some counts, one in three adults and one in five adolescents are considered obese. Such excess weight can lead to conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and shortened life span. Surgery is often the last resort for these obese patients.

— Ivy Nguyen


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