Bariatric Surgery Has Potential To Help Improve Brain Function, Avoid Alzheimer's

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Procedures like vertical gastrectomy, Roux en Y gastric bypass, and duodenal switch can help battle long-term effects of obesity on cognitive functions like memory and thinking.

A study presented at the Endocrinological Society's meeting in June and reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has linked obesity-related insulin resistance with decreased brain function and early Alzheimer’s Disease.

Although insulin is best known as a regulator of blood glucose levels, the study shows that insulin also acts in the brain to aid memory and thinking. When insulin regulation is disrupted -- as is common in many common medical conditions like obesity and diabetes -- the risk for cognitive impairment increases dramatically.

“This study demonstrates that insulin resistance and diabetes – often accompanied by obesity – increase the risk for debilitating late-life memory impairment and early Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Paul T. Cirangle, of Laparoscopic Associates of San Francisco.

In the study, The Institute for the Study of Aging focused on 71 adult patients with impaired glucose tolerance or Type 2 diabetes who underwent cognitive testing over a four-month period. Performance on memory tasks improved in participants who received anti-diabetic agents, but not in the placebo groups.

“One of the therapeutic approaches to memory loss includes control of insulin levels and weight loss,” explained Dr. Cirangle. “Bariatric surgery is the only proven method in maintaining long-term weight loss, based on a 1992 NIH Consensus on the subject. Bariatric procedures like the vertical gastrectomy, Roux en Y gastric bypass, and duodenal switch should be performed early to prevent cognitive impairment and decrease in brain function.”

Often severely obese patients suffer from co-morbidities, such as diabetes, hypertension and lipid disorder, which have been shown to cause brain dysfunction. Serious co-morbidities that go hand-in-hand with obesity are often entirely eradicated following bariatric surgery.

According to the American Medical Association, diabetes is cured in 77% of bariatric surgery patients and resolved or improved in 86% of patients. Most patients are off all of their diabetes medications or have significantly reduced doses in the first three months after bariatric surgery. Blood sugar glucose levels and Hemoglobin A1c levels usually return to normal or near normal.

About Laparoscopic Associates of San Francisco (LapSF) is a team of surgeons with a compassionate approach to patient care and a proven commitment to laparoscopic advancement for bariatric surgical procedures. Specializing in the four main weight-loss surgeries: roux-en-y gastric bypass, vertical gastrectomy, LapBand® and duodenal switch, LapSF has performed over 1,200 procedures, and is recognized by the American Society of Bariatric Surgery (ASBS) as a Center of Excellence.

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Craig Hordlow
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