Bariatric surgery can alleviate heart conditions

Lori Lively’s gradual seven-year weight gain after an automobile accident raised her blood pressure, elevated her blood sugar level to diabetic range and worsened an existing heart condition.

After the wreck and later, a hysterectomy, Lori’s formerly active lifestyle slowed, and her food choices started affecting her weight. On her petite, 5-foot frame, even a small gain affected how she felt.

“My upper body strength just wasn’t there anymore, and I got to the point that I was scared to be active because I knew it was going to hurt,” she said. “It was so easy to slip into not doing things.”

Dissatisfied with her loss of energy and inability to lose weight by dieting, the once-slim 42-year-old grandmother discussed her concern with her nurse practitioner, who referred Lori to Jeff W. Allen, M.D., director, bariatric surgery, with Norton Weight Management Services and general, bariatric and laparoscopic surgeon with Norton Surgical Specialists.

Lori met the criteria for gastric sleeve surgery and was back at work a week after the procedure.

Weeks after Lori’s surgery, her provider was able to discontinue her blood pressure and diabetes medications.

“The heart is one of the first organs impacted by significant weight gain,” Dr. Allen said. “Being overweight makes the heart work much harder. The good news is, just like in Lori’s case, even a small amount of weight loss can give the heart a boost.”

It takes about 5% to 10% loss of body weight to begin to reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Although Lori considers the gastric sleeve instrumental to her weight loss, she said the supportive services available to her afterward are just as important.

“There are dietitians and counselors who can support you and help you do things differently.

“They’re there for you anytime you slip up and get back into old habits,” she said. “Once you learn to eat healthier, even small portions of something unhealthy aren’t worth the way they make your body feel.”

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