Heart Disease, Obesity Intrinsically Linked; Surgery Offers Long-term Solution

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It is widely known that heart disease is the number one killer of people the world over, and physicians around the globe are educating their patients about the risks of cardiovascular disease and what can be done to prevent it. While some risk factors, such as quitting smoking and adopting a health lifestyle, can be changed, others such as genetics cannot.

February was National Heart Month, and with it came an influx of all things heart related. It is widely known that heart disease is the number one killer of people the world over, and physicians around the globe are educating their patients about the risks of cardiovascular disease and what can be done to prevent it. While some risk factors, such as quitting smoking and adopting a health lifestyle, can be changed, others such as genetics cannot.

Obesity, often caused by genetic factors, is a medical condition that must be treated with medical advice and/or intervention. Extra weight greatly increases an individual’s risk for heart disease, which can lead to a heart attack. Some reasons for this higher risk are known, but others are not. According to the American Heart Association, obesity raises blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lowers HDL, known as "good" cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is linked with lower heart disease and stroke risk, so reducing it tends to raise the risk. Obesity also raises blood pressure levels and can induce diabetes. In some people diabetes makes these other risk factors much worse. The danger of a heart attack is especially high for these people.

“Obesity is a huge risk for cardiovascular disease in susceptible individuals,” said Laurence Tanaka, M.D., surgeon at Pacific Bariatric Surgical Medical Group and Scripps Mercy Hospital. “We are so fortunate to be able to offer patients a realistic, long-term solution to help them improve their health and their lives.”

Many people who have tried and failed to lose weight through conventional methods such as diet and exercise may find success with bariatric surgery, which involves dividing the stomach into two sections. One of the two sections is a new, smaller pouch that will act as the new stomach. The new stomach has the capacity of roughly two ounces, as opposed to its former size of about two quarts. This drastic reduction limits the patient’s stomach’s ability to hold food, resulting in a feeling of fullness after eating only a small amount.

Surgeons at Pacific Bariatric have performed almost 9,000 procedures on adult and adolescent patients at Scripps Mercy Hospital. As a result of outstanding aftercare programs and support groups, patients at Pacific Bariatric and Scripps Mercy see a slightly higher success rate than the national average.

Pacific Bariatric Surgical Medical Group (http://www.pbsmg.com) and Scripps Mercy Hospital are nationally designated by the American Society for Bariatric Surgery as a Center of Excellence for bariatric surgery. Pacific Bariatric Surgical Medical Group, also known as Hillcrest Surgical Medical Group, Inc., has an 80-year tradition of surgical excellence and leadership in San Diego County. Scripps Mercy Hospital has been a health care leader in San Diego County for 115 years, offering patients an unparalleled continuum of care. For more information, visit http://www.pbsmg.com.

Established in 1890 by the Sisters of Mercy, Scripps Mercy Hospital serves the San Diego and Chula Vista communities. With 700 licensed beds, more than 3,000 employees and 1,300 physicians, Scripps Mercy Hospital is San Diego’s longest established and only Catholic medical center. With two campuses, Scripps Mercy Hospital is the largest hospital in San Diego County and one of the 10 largest in California.

For more information, visit http://www.scripps.org.

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Kristin Reinhardt