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Seniors More At Risk from Large Scale Weight-loss Surgery

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found through a first large-scale review of weight-loss surgeries performed on older adults that bariatric procedures should// generally be limited to people younger than age 65.

The study showed that older patients experienced less weight loss and far more complications than younger patients, indicating that the risks often outweigh the benefits of these types of surgeries in older patients. The study, which appears in the Archives of Surgery, reviewed more than 25,000 bariatric procedures from a national database.

“Adverse outcomes increased with age, particularly after age 60,” said Dr. Edward Livingston, chairman of GI/endocrine surgery at UT Southwestern and the study’s lead author. “Beyond 65 years of age, the adverse event rate exceeded 20 percent and mortality was 3.23 percent.”

In addition to age, the study found that men and those with electrolyte disorders and congestive heart failure were at greater risk of death from bariatric surgery or related complications, said Dr. Livingston.

Other conditions that increased risk for adverse events and required longer hospital stays included chronic pulmonary disease, diabetes and depression.

Common complications included gastrointestinal, respiratory and cardiac problems. Gastrointestinal problems were most common, occurring in about 30 percent of older patients who had complications. Respiratory-tract problems occurred in about 20 percent of patients with post-operative problems. Cardiac complications affected about 15 percent of elderly patients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly one-third of adult Americans – more than 60 million people – are obese. Nearly 5 percent of adults are classified as extremely obese. The American Society for Bariatric Surgery Foundation estimates that more than 1,000 people die each day from obesity-related complications. Obese adults are a
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