Health Risks of Obesity

Overweight and obese people are at increased risk for many diseases and health conditions, including the following:

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes; 90% of all people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes are overweight.  In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use sugar. Sugar is the basic fuel for the cells in the body, and insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause two problems:

Having type 2 diabetes increases your risk for many serious complications. Some complications of type 2 diabetes include: heart disease (cardiovascular disease), blindness (retinopathy), nerve damage (neuropathy), and kidney damage (nephropathy).

The Role of Weight Loss Surgery in Type 2 Diabetes

Current research shows that Bariatric surgical procedures have proven more successful helping morbidly obese people lose weight and control diabetes than conservative methods.
(Greenway SE, Greenway FL 3rd, Klein S. Arch Surg. 2002 Oct;137 (10):1109-17.)
According to a large research study on type 2 diabetics who had gastric bypass surgery conducted out of East Carolina University, the research team found that gastric bypass surgery, more than any other therapy, has produced lasting and complete control of diabetes. The operation provides long-term control of non-insulin-dependent diabetes. The patients who participated in the study maintained normal levels of plasma glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin, and insulin.
(Pories WJ, Swanson MS, MacDonald KG, Long SB, Morris PG, Brown BM, Barakat HA, deRamon RA, Israel G, Dolezal JM, et al. Ann Surg. 1995 Sep;222(3):339-50; discussion 350-2.)

At the beginning of 2008, news headlines around the world read: “Obesity Surgery Can Cure Diabetes”.  According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB), demonstrated superior results for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.  The complete remission rate of 73% for the surgery vs 13% for medical management is among the highest reported in literature.  Dixon JB, Obrien PE, Playfair J. Chapman L. Schachter LM, Skinner S, Proietto J, Bailey M, Anderson M. JAMA 2008:299 (3): 316-323.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) about one in every four American adults has high blood pressure. Once high blood pressure develops, it usually lasts a lifetime. The good news is that it can be treated and controlled.

What is blood pressure?

Blood is carried from the heart to all parts of your body in vessels called arteries. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Each time the heart beats (about 60-70 times a minute at rest), it pumps out blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is at its highest when the heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When the heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is the diastolic pressure. A blood pressure reading below 120/80 is considered normal. High blood pressure is a blood pressure reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher.  Pre-hypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure of 120–139 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure of 80–89 mmHg. Persons with pre-hypertension are at increased risk to progress to hypertension.

Who Gets High Blood Pressure?

More than 50 million American adults--1 in 4--have high blood pressure.
In the U.S., high blood pressure occurs more often in African Americans. Over half of all Americans age 60 and older have high blood pressure.
Your chances of getting high blood pressure increase if you:

Heart Disease (Coronary Artery Disease = CAD)

CAD is the most common type of heart disease. It is the leading cause of death in the U.S. in both men and women. If you are overweight or obese, carrying this extra weight puts you at risk for developing many diseases, especially heart disease and stroke.

Here's my story:

I have struggled with my weight since I was in grade school. I came from a family that celebrated with food at every event. We had ravioli eating contests and I was a member of the clean plate club! In grade school and high school I wasn't obese but I was never thin enough to meet other's approvals. As a junior in high school I was selected to be a majorette and my band director called me aside and told me I was too fat and needed to lose weight (I was probably 10 pounds overweight). I was so humiliated that I starved myself and wound up in the hospital and missed 6 weeks of school. Thus began my yo-yo dieting lifestyle that continued until I met with Dr. Felix and decided to have a gastric by-pass in November 2013.

At my heaviest, I weighed 261 pounds that was mostly due to steroid shots/nerve blocks to try and alleviate my chronic back pain that came from a car accident and lifting my laptop briefcase the wrong way herniating a disc in my lower back. In 2007 I had back surgery that failed and wound up using a cane and a mobility scooter. I had type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetic neuropathy that left me dragging my right leg and foot around. I took 13 different medications and was miserable. I knew I had to do something or I thought I was going to lose my right foot and was going to wind up in a wheel chair all day. That's when I asked my PCP about weight lose surgery and he recommended Hope Bariatrics.

Dr. Felix is my superhero and in my mind a miracle worker! Before the surgery, we spoke about the existing scar tissue I had from previous surgeries and he said he would try really hard to perform my bypass laproscopically (and he did). Dr. Felix won't take credit for it, but 3 days after my surgery my right foot stood up and I could feel my toes! The first time in seven years my right foot began to work and the feeling started to return to the soles of my feet. That same day the endocrinologist said I was no longer diabetic! Each day it seemed something new and wonderful happened to improve my health. I went from 13 pills down to 3 (that really are optional). I'm no longer diabetic, no longer have high blood pressure, no longer have high cholesterol and after two months of rehab I no longer have to use my leg brace, no longer walk with a cane or use my mobility scooter. My pain level has gone way down and I have the feeling back in my foot and leg. I'm 5 months out from surgery and my weight is down to 175. I plan to lose another 30 by the end of the year so that I can finally be referred to as a normal weight.

Now that I can, I am running away from all the bad things when I was heavy to keep my brand new life healthy. I ran my first 5K on 4/12/2014 and finished in under an hour and I was 4th from the last (but not last!). I'm running in the Pittsburgh Superhero race (charity to help abused kids) this weekend and will attempt the Pittsburgh marathon on May 4th (if I don't make it this year there is always next year  ). I am FOREVER thankful to Dr. Felix and his wonderful and caring staff for giving me my life back. If you're on the fence about having the surgery, just do it as the Nike logo says, you'll be so happy to have your life back it is soooo worth it!

If there is anyone who wants to talk to me I'd be happy to let them know my experience.


- Donna

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