Will I be a successful bariatric patient at five years?

In 2005 I suffered a heart attack, underwent triple cardiac bypass surgery, and regained my strength through cardiac rehab. This heart attack made me aware of the fragility of life and altered the way I live my life. It led me to my bariatric surgery three years later. My experience gives me a personal interest in research reported by the American Heart Association (AHA). I am especially interested when the press release or news speaks of weight loss in relation to cardiac health.

On March 14, the American Heart Association published its first scientific statement on the relationship of cardiac health and bariatric surgery, Bariatric Surgery and Cardiovascular Risk Factors. The AHA statement cites numerous studies and research efforts in this statement. I urge you to read it if you are interested in the statistics they drew their opinions and the research that led them to their opinions. It also has an excellent section describing the various bariatric surgeries and their risks.

As I approach three years as a bariatric surgery post-op, I question how successful I will be at 5 years, 10 years, etc. I have done that with my past two surgiversaries. From discussions with my primary care physician and cardiologist, I see the direct connection between my weight loss and my improved cardiac health. After reading the AHA statement, I was glad to see my healthcare givers’ opinions supported by their research.

The AHA statement reinforced the long term success statistics I have heard during my journey. I am going to over simplify the statement in the following sentences. Numerous surveys show that RNY results in a greater amount of weight loss than gastric banding. Gastric banded patients lose less and are more susceptible to weight regain. All bariatric surgeries see a typical patient regain 10-15% of their weight at five years.

As a Lapband gastric banded post-op, these results make me aware that I need to be more vigilant and observe bariatric guidelines closely to be a success at five years. The AHA statement also addressed the definitions of success and how they defined it. They concurred with bariatric professional definitions of success as being at 50% loss of excess body weight at five years.

As I dug deeper into the study, I uncovered this interesting tidbit: “It appears that severely obese patients who become active after bariatric surgery achieve greater weight losses and quality-of-life improvements than those who remain inactive.” I was happy to see that because that is one of the primary areas that I focus my life on today. I believe being active is critical to my success.  

This all boils down with how you define success. If we limit ourselves to the scale, the bariatric long-term studies would solely define success based on weight. I see success as much broader than what the scale says. The AHA statement reinforces my vision of success. It speaks of eliminating or minimizing obesity co-morbidities. It definitely links weight loss to improvements in cardiac health and longevity of life.

Will I be a success at 5 years? I truly believe I will be. I think I will be because of the knowledge I have gained over these past three years. I know obesity is a disease and I have acknowledged that I need to treat it every day just as I treat my cardiac disease and hypertension. Knowing what you are battling is the first thing you need to know before you move forward and fight the battle.

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