Weight loss surgery extends lives, study finds | CNN



CNN
— 

Weight loss surgery reduces the risk of premature death, especially from such obesity-related conditions as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, according to a new 40-year study of nearly 22,000 people who had bariatric surgery in Utah.

Compared with those of similar weight, people who underwent one of four types of weight loss surgery were 16% less likely to die from any cause, the study found. The drop in deaths from diseases triggered by obesity, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, was even more dramatic.

“Deaths from cardiovascular disease decreased by 29%, while deaths from various cancers decreased by 43%, which is pretty impressive,” said lead author Ted Adams, an adjunct associate professor in nutrition and integrative physiology at the University of Utah’s School of Medicine.

“There was also a huge percentage drop — a 72% decline — in deaths related to diabetes in people who had surgery compared to those who did not,” he said. One significant downside: The study also found younger people who had the surgery were at higher risk for suicide.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Obesity, reinforces similar findings from earlier research, including a 10-year study in Sweden that found significant reductions in premature deaths, said Dr. Eduardo Grunvald, a professor of medicine and medical director of the weight management program at the University of California San Diego Health.

The Swedish study also found a significant number of people were in remission from diabetes at both two years and 10 years after surgery.

“This new research from Utah is more evidence that people who undergo these procedures have positive, beneficial long-term outcomes,” said Grunvald, who coauthored the American Gastroenterological Association’s new guidelines on obesity treatment.

The association strongly recommends patients with obesity use recently approved weight loss medications or surgery paired with lifestyle changes.

“And the key for patients is to know that changing your diet becomes more natural, more easy to do after you have bariatric surgery or take the new weight loss medications,” said Grunvald, who was not involved in the Utah study.

“While we don’t yet fully understand why, these interventions actually change the chemistry in your brain, making it much easier to change your diet afterwards.”

Despite the benefits though, only 2% of patients who are eligible for bariatric surgery ever get it, often due to the stigma about obesity, said Dr. Caroline Apovian, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and codirector of the Center for Weight Management and Wellness at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Apovian was the lead author for the Endocrine Society’s clinical practice guidelines for the pharmacological management of obesity.

Insurance carriers typically cover the cost of surgery for people over 18 with a body mass index of 40 or higher, or a BMI of 35 if the patient also has a related condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, she said.

“I see patients with a BMI of 50, and invariably I will say, ‘You’re a candidate for everything — medication, diet, exercise and surgery.’ And many tell me, ‘Don’t talk to me about surgery. I don’t want it.’ They don’t want a surgical solution to what society has told them is a failure of willpower,” she said.

“We don’t torture people who have heart disease: ‘Oh, it’s because you ate all that fast food.’ We don’t torture people with diabetes: ‘Oh, it’s because you ate all that cake.’ We tell them they have a disease, and we treat it. Obesity is a disease, too, yet we torture people with obesity by telling them it’s their fault.”

Most of the people who choose bariatric surgery — around 80% — are women, Adams said. One of the strengths of the new study, he said, was the inclusion of men who had undergone the procedure.

“For all-causes of death, the mortality was reduced by 14% for females and by 21% for males,” Adams said. In addition, deaths from related causes, such as heart attack, cancer and diabetes, was 24% lower for females and 22% lower for males who underwent surgery compared with those who did not, he said.

Four types of surgery performed between 1982 and 2018 were examined in the study: gastric bypass, gastric banding, gastric sleeve and duodenal switch.

Gastric bypass, developed in the late 1960s, creates a small pouch near the top of the stomach. A part of the small intestine is brought up and attached to that point, bypassing most of the stomach and the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine.

In gastric banding, an elastic band that can be tightened or loosened is placed around the top portion of the stomach, thus restricting the volume of food entering the stomach cavity. Because gastric banding is not as successful in creating long-term weight loss, the procedure “is not as popular today,” Adams said.

“The gastric sleeve is a procedure where essentially about two-thirds of the stomach is removed laparoscopically,” he said. “It takes less time to perform, and food still passes through the much-smaller stomach. It’s become a very popular option.”

The duodenal switch is typically reserved for patients who have a high BMI, Adams added. It’s a complicated procedure that combines a sleeve gastrectomy with an intestinal bypass, and is effective for type 2 diabetes, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

One alarming finding of the new study was a 2.4% increase in deaths by suicide, primarily among people who had bariatric surgery between the ages of 18 and 34.

“That’s because they are told that life is going to be great after surgery or medication,” said Joann Hendelman, clinical director of the National Alliance for Eating Disorders, a nonprofit advocacy group.

“All you have to do is lose weight, and people are going to want to hang out with you, people will want to be your friend, and your anxiety and depression are going to be gone,” she said. “But that’s not reality.”

In addition, there are postoperative risks and side effects associated with bariatric surgery, such as nausea, vomiting, alcoholism, a potential failure to lose weight or even weight gain, said Susan Vibbert, an advocate at Project HEAL, which provides help for people struggling with eating disorders.

“How are we defining health in these scenarios? And is there another intervention — a weight neutral intervention?” Vibbert asked.

Past research has also shown an association between suicide risk and bariatric surgery, Grunvald said, but studies on the topic are not always able to determine a patient’s mental history.

“Did the person opt for surgery because they had some unrealistic expectations or underlying psychological disorders that were not resolved after the surgery? Or is this a direct effect somehow of bariatric surgery? We can’t answer that for sure,” he said.

Intensive presurgery counseling is typically required for all who undergo the procedure, but it may not be enough, Apovian said. She lost her first bariatric surgery patient to suicide.

“She was older, in her 40s. She had surgery and lost 150 pounds. And then she put herself in front of a bus and died because she had underlying bipolar disorder she had been self-medicating with food,” Apovian said. “We as a society use a lot of food to hide trauma. What we need in this country is more psychological counseling for everybody, not just for people who undergo bariatric surgery.”

Managing weight is a unique process for each person, a mixture of genetics, culture, environment, social stigma and personal health, experts say. There is no one solution for all.

“First, we as a society must consider obesity as a disease, as a biological problem, not as a moral failing,” Grunvald said. “That’s my first piece of advice.

“And if you believe your life is going to benefit from treatment, then consider evidence-based treatment, which studies show are surgery or medications, if you haven’t been able to successfully do it with lifestyle changes alone.”

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ER on the field: An inside look at how NFL medical teams prepare for a game day emergency | CNN



CNN
— 

When Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin dropped to the ground from a cardiac arrest earlier this month, help was by his side in under 10 seconds to administer CPR.

It wasn’t coincidence or luck. Rather, it’s the result of careful planning and practice – the execution of detailed choreography performed by the medical personnel present at every National Football League game.

Saving Hamlin’s life was the ultimate test.

“What we want is that the players are getting the same care here that they would if they were in a hospital or health care facility and that’s what the system has been set up to do,” NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Saturday.

About 30 medical personnel are at every game, including orthopedic and trauma specialists, athletic trainers, paramedics and dentists. Sills gave CNN a rare behind-the-scenes look at the league’s medical personnel during Saturday’s playoff game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Los Angeles Chargers. The goal, Sills said, is to deliver hospital-quality care on the gridiron.

When Hamlin collapsed on January 2, speed was of the essence. Studies find that for every minute someone who experiences cardiac arrest and doesn’t receive CPR, their chances of survival decrease 7 to 10%.

Hamlin’s heart was restarted on the field. The 24-year-old spent more than a week in the hospital in Cincinnati, then transferred to a hospital in Buffalo before he was released home last week.

Sills said that being on the field was likely a factor for Hamlin: Survival is more likely for someone who experiences cardiac arrest in the hospital. One study found that 10 to 12% those who have cardiac arrest outside of the hospital survive to discharge, but that survival rate more than doubled for those who experienced cardiac arrest in the hospital.

“I think he was being resuscitated as he would have been in an emergency room at that moment,” Sills said.

Hear audio of medical personnel treating Damar Hamlin after he collapsed

The NFL requires all teams to have an emergency action plan, or EAP, for all player facilities, including practice fields.

The plans are filed by the teams every year and are approved by the League as well as the NFL Players Association, the players’ union, Sills said. They run drills on the plan, so when an event like Hamlin’s cardiac arrest occurs, the medical team’s choreography is close to automatic.

“The EAP was followed to a letter that night,” Sills said. “In that moment everyone knew what they needed to do, how they needed to do it and had the equipment to do it and felt comfortable.”

These plans include details about where ambulances are located, the quickest route to the hospital, where medical equipment is stored, and even what radio and hand signals will be used in case of a medical event.

While the teams are all connected by radio, the sound from the game and the crowd can be overwhelming.

“It gets loud and so having those nonverbal signs is a way for us to communicate,” explained Dr. Kevin Kaplan, Jacksonville Jaguars’ head physician. For example, using two hands as if driving a steering wheel indicates needing the medical cart, while crossing arms to make an “X” is an all-call for medical personnel.

The home team sends the plan to the visiting team a week before the game. Then, an hour before kickoff, medical teams from both teams gather to review and confirm the details in what’s known as a “60-minute meeting.”

Medical teams from the Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars gathered for the 60-minute meeting ahead of kickoff on Saturday.

It’s like the NFL’s version of what happens in a hospital: Before doctors perform a procedure, the medical team gathers for a “timeout” to review who is responsible for what.

Before the football game, they identify the team physicians, athletic trainers and key trauma personnel, including an airway specialist who can place a breathing tube in moments, if needed.

In the excitement of game day, there needs to be a simple, clear way to identify who can help in case of an emergency. At any NFL game, you’ll see it: a red hat.

Dr. Justin Deaton, NFL airway management physician, wears a red hat on the sideline of the Jacksonville Jaguars-Los Angeles Chargers game on Saturday.

“That signifies me as the emergency physician, the airway physician, so that even the other team knows when I come out what my role is,” Dr. Justin Deaton told Gupta. “Once I come out onto the field, I kind of take over, I identify if the patient is either unconscious or has an airway obstruction.”

At every game, Deaton stands along the 30 yard line, just like his counterparts at other games.

“We standardize the location so that everybody knows where our airway physician is going to be located,” said Sills.

If the player isn’t breathing, it’s up to Deaton to identify who will administer CPR. If the player’s breathing is blocked and he can’t breathe on his own, Deaton may have to intubate the player on the field. In order to do so, he carries a videoscope to look down someone’s throat and an ultrasound machine.

In the event Deaton can’t get the patient to breathe through their mouth, he’s prepared to essentially do surgery on the field.

“If someone has an obstruction or significant trauma to the face and we can’t secure an airway by the mouth, we’re able to make an incision and insert that way,” he told Gupta. “I really have all the resources available here that I would have in an emergency room.”

The challenge is that they’re surrounded by chaos – not the more controlled environment of the emergency department or operation room.

“When you have a larger-than-average-sized person that’s laying flat on the ground and not able to be elevated to a certain level with extra equipment, plus cameras and other people around, those are really the confounders and things that make it more difficult to manage,” Deaton said.

In football, it’s not just about executing in the moment – it’s about anticipating. The same is true for medical personnel.

The NFL includes certified athletic trainers on its medical team to serve as spotters. They’re positioned throughout the stadium, including a booth that oversees the entire stadium, to watch the game in real time and again in replay – sometimes over and over – to immediately catch any injuries or assess those that might have been overlooked. They have around 30 different angles of the field at their fingertips.

“We watch every play probably minimally four times and then we’ll go back and watch it again,” said Sue Stanley-Green, one of the athletic trainer spotters assigned to Saturday’s game. “We just want to make sure we don’t miss anything.”

Spotters around the field at every game have different views of plays -- and potential injuries.

The spotters who sit in a stadium booth above the field are able to communicate directly with the medical team on the sidelines and direct them to concerning plays and possible injuries. They also have a unique line of communication to the referees, and the ability to stop the game for a medical timeout.

Sills acknowledges that there is always room for improvement and need to evolve.

In September, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa experienced an apparent head injury while playing against the Bills. He stumbled after being hit, but was allowed to return to the game. The incident put new scrutiny of the NFL and its policies.

Afterward, the league changed its concussion policy. Now, Sills says, “if we see something that looks like ataxia on video, (players) are done.”

Sills said he believes the NFL’s network of practices is working to keep players safe, and the league is currently reviewing the moments around Hamlin’s cardiac arrest. One aspect of emergencies that Sills wants to see more work on is privacy.

In the moments after Hamlin fell, his teammates formed “kind of a shield,” Sills said, which limited the view of Hamlin.

“I think there’s some things there that we may look at,” Sill said. “Obviously any of us would want some privacy in a moment like that.”

But when facing a test like saving a life on the field, “everything went really as well as you could have asked to have gone in the moment,” Sills said. “It’s always about the right people, the right plan and the right equipment.”

Bob Costas Damar Hamlin split for video

Bob Costas: Hamlin collapsing is not an indictment of NFL safety

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Damar Hamlin could be released from a Buffalo hospital in the next day or two | CNN



CNN
— 

A week after suffering a cardiac arrest while playing the Cincinnati Bengals, doctors are hoping Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is healthy enough to be released from a Buffalo hospital within 24 to 48 hours, Michael Hughes, senior vice president and chief administrative officer at Kaleida Health, told CNN on Tuesday.

Doctors are finishing tests and are identifying possible causes of the event, including whether there were any pre-existing conditions that played a role in Hamlin’s January 2 cardiac arrest.

“Hamlin is going through a series of testing and evaluation today,” Kaleida Health said in a statement Tuesday. The Buffalo General Medical Center team will also “potentially treat any pathology that may be found, as well as plan for his recovery, discharge and rehabilitation.”

Hamlin himself updated his fans Tuesday afternoon.

“Not home quite just yet,” Hamlin tweeted. “Still doing & passing a bunch of test. Special thank-you to Buffalo General it’s been nothing but love since arrival! Keep me in y’all prayers please!”

Hamlin was transferred from a Cincinnati hospital to the Buffalo hospital on Monday after doctors determined his critical condition had improved to good or fair – surpassing expectations.

“We felt that it was safe and proper to help get him back to the greater Buffalo area,” Dr. Timothy Pritts, chief of surgery at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, said Monday.

Hamlin’s parents flew from Cincinnati back home to Pittsburgh but then flew to Buffalo. They were en route Tuesday from the Buffalo Bills’ practice facility and were expected to arrive at the hospital to see Hamlin soon.

Hamlin, a second-year NFL player, has been regaining strength over the past several days after his sudden collapse after a tackle against the Bengals in Cincinnati.

“He’s certainly on what we consider a very normal to even accelerated trajectory from the life-threatening event that he underwent,” Pritts said, “but he’s making great progress.”

Normal recovery from a cardiac arrest can be measured in weeks to months, Pritts explained. But Hamlin has been beating that timeline at each stage and is neurologically intact.

Still, Pritts said it’s too early to say when Hamlin could get back to normal life or what caused his heart to stop, saying more testing is needed.

Hamlin was sedated and on a ventilator for days after his cardiac arrest. On Friday morning, the breathing tube was removed, and Hamlin began walking with some help by that afternoon, his doctors said Monday.

The safety’s condition was upgraded Monday because his organ systems were stable and he no longer needed intensive nursing or respiratory therapy, doctors said.

“He walks normally,” said Dr. William Knight, a neurovascular critical care expert who treated Hamlin at UC Health. “He is admittedly a little weak. I don’t think that’s of any real surprise after what he went through, just regaining his strength. And that’s part of his recovery process.”

Hamlin’s release Monday meant he could return to Buffalo, which prompted even more encouragement and eagerness for some of his teammates to see him again.

“Super excited that he’s back in Buffalo and what a job that the team of docs and the medical team did out in Cincinnati, and now he’s in great care here in Buffalo. We’re happy to have him back,” Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott told reporters Monday.

After seeing him Monday, McDermott said Hamlin was “tired” but seemed happy. “Happy to be back in Buffalo and around a familiar area to him. I know he’s taking it just one step at a time.”

The coach also said his team has grown since Hamlin was injured, saying such experiences nurture growth.

“We will all have grown as people, and as men in this case,” McDermott said, noting there’s a plan in place for the players and staff to visit Hamlin “at the proper time.”

“Having him nearby will give us more comfort” and inspire the team as it prepares for the postseason, McDermott said.

Although Hamlin was not with the team when they played Sunday against the New England Patriots, his support was definitely felt.

When his team scored a touchdown, Hamlin set off alarms in the ICU, Pritts said.

“When the opening kickoff was run back, he jumped up and down and got out of his chair and set – I think – every alarm off in the ICU in the process, but he was fine, it was just an appropriate reaction to a very exciting play. He very much enjoyed it,” Pritts said.

Hamlin was “beyond excited” Sunday and felt “very supported by the outpouring of love from across the league, especially from the Buffalo area. We’ve learned this week that the Bills mafia is a very real thing,” Pritts added.

The immediate medical response to Hamlin’s collapse helped save his life, and the Buffalo Bills are now encouraging people to learn how to administer CPR.

Assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington is credited with performing CPR when Hamlin lost his pulse on the field and needed to be revived through resuscitation and defibrillation.

The medical response was part of an emergency action plan that “involves team, independent medical and athletic training staff, equipment and security personnel, and is reviewed prior to every game,” a Monday statement from the Bills read.

The team pledged support for resources including CPR certifications, automated external defibrillator units and guidance developing cardiac emergency response plans within the Buffalo community, according to the statement.

“We encourage all our fans to continue showing your support and take the next step by obtaining CPR certification,” the Bills said.

Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify Hughes’ remarks about Hamlin’s injury and recovery.



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Heart Disease Deaths Spiked During COVID

Nov. 29, 2022 – Deaths from heart disease and stroke among adults living in the United States have been on the decline since 2010. But the COVID-19 pandemic reversed that downward trend in 2020, new research shows. 

It was as if COVID had wiped out 5 years of progress, pushing rates back to levels seen in 2015, the researchers say.

Non-Hispanic Black people and those who were younger than 75 were affected more than others, with the pandemic reversing 10 years of progress in those groups. 

Rebecca C. Woodruff, PhD, presented these study findings at the American Heart Association 2022 Scientific Sessions.

The rate of death from heart disease had been falling for decades in the United States due to better detection of risk factors, such as high blood pressure, and better treatments, such as statins for cholesterol, she said.

The decrease in deaths from heart disease from 1900 to 1999 “has been recognized as a top public health achievement of the twentieth  century,” said Woodruff, who is an epidemiologist for the CDC.

The reversal of this positive trend shows that it is important that people “work with a health care provider to prevent and manage existing heart disease, even in challenging conditions like the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. 

Woodruff advised that “everyone can improve and maintain their cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by following the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8 – eating better, being more active, quitting tobacco, getting healthy sleep, managing weight, controlling cholesterol, managing blood sugar, and managing blood pressure.” 

“COVID-19 vaccines can help everyone, especially those with underlying heart disease or other health conditions, and protect people from severe COVID-19,” she stressed.

Andrew J. Einstein, MD, PhD, from Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, who was not involved with this research, says the results show “very disturbing changes” to the decline in deaths from heart disease over the past decade. 

The study findings underscore that “as a society, we need to take efforts to ensure that all people are engaged in the health care system, with one aim being improving heart health outcomes, which worsened significantly in 2020,” he says. 

“If you don’t actively see a primary care provider, it’s important to find one with whom you can have a good relationship and can discuss with you heart-healthy living; check your blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol; ask you about symptoms and examine you to detect disease early; and refer you for more specialized heart care as needed,” he says. 

Some Study Findings

The researchers analyzed data from the CDC’s WONDER database.

They identified adults ages 35 and older with heart disease as cause of death.

They found that the number of people who died from heart disease in every 100,000 people (heart disease death rate) dropped each year from 2010 to 2019, but it increased in 2020, the first year of the pandemic.

This increase was seen in the total population, in men, in women, in all age groups, and in all race and Hispanic ethnicity groups.

In the total population, the heart disease death rate dropped by 9.8% from 2010 to 2019. But this rate increased by 4.1% in 2020, going back to the rate it had been in 2015.

Among non-Hispanic Black people, the heart disease death rate fell by 10.4% from 2010 to 2019, but it increased by 11.2% in 2020, going back to the rate it had been in 2010.

Similarly, among adults ages 35 to 54 and those ages 55 to 74, the rates of heart disease deaths decreased from 2010 to 2019 and increased in 2020 to rates higher than they had been in 2010.

In 2020, about 7 years of progress in declining heart death rates was lost among men and 3 years of progress was lost among women, the researchers said. 

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