Overweight and Under the Knife

Obese people with hypertension and diabetes have higher risk of surgery complications

(RxWiki News) Past studies have shown that obese people have a lower risk of complications after surgery. However, new research shows that obese people with related health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes are more likely to have problems after surgery.

Researchers found that obese people have a higher risk of complications after going through surgeries that do not involve the heart. These patients are more likely to have complications that affect the lungs, nervous system, and kidneys.

"Some obese people are more likely to have health problems after surgery."

People tend to think that all obese individuals have the same health problems, says lead author Laurent G. Glance, M.D., from the University of Rochester Medical Center. The reason previous studies showed that obese people have a lower risk of complications after surgery, Glance continues, may be that the obese people included in that studies were healthy except for their weight.

According to Rabih Salloum, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, this study shows that obesity should not be doctors' main worry when thinking about a patient's risk of post-surgery complications.

Instead, doctors should watch out for obese patients who also have high blood pressure and diabetes.

If doctors know that obese patients with high blood pressure and diabetes face higher risks, then doctors can give these patients a better idea of what they may have to deal with after surgery, says Richard N. Wissler, M.D., Ph.D., one of the study's authors and associate professor of Anesthesiology and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

In Depth

For their study, Dr. Glance and colleagues looked at over 310,000 patients who underwent non-cardiac surgery between 2005 and 2007. The researchers identified which patients were obese. They then measured these obese patients' risk for metabolic syndrome - the name for the group of factors that increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

After non-cardiac surgery, obese patients with "modified metabolic syndrome" (high blood pressure and diabetes) were:

  • three to seven times more likely to have kidney problems
  • two to three times more likely to have heart complications
  • one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half times more likely to have lung problems
  • two times more likely to have complications of the nervous system
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Review Date: 
April 18, 2011