How much weight loss will reduce major heart problems?

File photo (Oleg Elkov, iStock Photos)

Obesity is a major health problem in the U.S. affecting more than 40% of adults.

It is also a major risk factor for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the country.

Cleveland Clinic researchers looked into whether weight loss surgery could reduce some of these health problems.

“Bariatric surgery can lead to significant weight loss and most patients can keep the weight off for a long period of time,” said Dr. Ali Aminian, director of the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

Aminian and his team studied more than 7,000 patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

One group underwent weight-loss surgery, and the other group received the usual care.

The research team found patients who underwent surgery were 40% less likely to suffer a major cardiovascular event, like a heart attack or stroke.

The study also found surgical patients only had to lose 10% of their weight to reduce their risk for a major cardiovascular event.

In comparison, patients who received the usual care had to lose 20% of their weight to see the same results.

Aminian said it shows there are benefits to metabolic surgery, beyond weight loss.

“These changes that can happen after these types of procedures, including change in the hormones, in the bile acids, in the micro biome, these may explain the improvement in metabolic profile of these patients after surgery,” said Aminian. "It can exceed those expected from weight loss alone.

Based on this research, Cleveland Clinic’s team developed a calculator to help patients decide if weight loss surgery is right for them.

It looks at a person’s individual risk factors and shows their risk of developing major heart complications over the next 10 years.

You can find the full study in the October issue of Annals of Surgery.