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Bariatric surgery can force diabetes into remission

Posted: 8:07 AM, Nov 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-18 09:20:33-05
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The month of November has been dedicated to bringing awareness to the rampant and growing problem of diabetes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report about 30.3 million people in the United States, alone, have diabetes.

America's obesity epidemic has been steadily increasing in both children and adults.

Texas is ranked the 16th most overweight state in the U.S.

“The lifestyle, going out and eating at restaurants and culture does predispose itself to higher diabetes here so it is not surprising," said Corpus Christi Medical Center Bariatric Surgery Specialist Dr. Jagen Gopal. "Year after year we are up in the leader ranks unfortunately in diabetes and obesity.”

Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the United States, and the number of people with diabetes is expected to grow to 522 million by 2030.

“The complications of diabetes is what is really damaging. It is estimated about one person dies from complications from diabetes every 30 seconds and that is alarming,” said Gopal.

Being overweight or obese increases the chances of developing the common type of diabetes, Type 2 diabetes.

“The symptoms that patients or people should look for include hunger, fatigue, dry mouth, blurred vision, frequent urination, and itchy skin," said Gopal. "And excessive thirst can be signs and symptoms of diabetes.”

The disease can take a toll on families and individuals, which is why Dr. Gopal is pushing for more education to help lower those numbers.

“I think the first thing we can do is help learn about the disease, and so that way, we can prevent and treat the disease too," Dr. Gopal said. "Because of diabetes, we are seeing more and more prevalence in the youth as well. As childhood obesity continues to climb so does diabetes diagnosed at an earlier age. If we can get ahead of this thing, we could maybe help slow down this epidemic.”

There are multiple complications that go with diabetes, including heart and blood vessel disease, nerve damage, and kidney damage. If medications are not helping, surgery may be recommended. The American Diabetes Association and other medical societies suggest that surgery be considered as part of the treatment strategies for diabetes.

“Metabolic surgical techniques like the sleeve gastrectomy and, primarily, the gastric bypass are well known to help improve diabetes, and in some cases, many cases, people can reduce their medication load, and in some, can come off all their medications," Dr. Gopal said. "And those people, we consider them in remission of their diabetes.”

Diabetes is generally a progressive disorder that could be prevented if caught early and lifestyle changes are made.

“Changing their diet and behavior is the first step, and if you can lose about 5 percent of your total weight, that is going to have significant impact,” said Gopal.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 95 percent of more than 30 million diabetes cases in the U.S. and 7 million people are unaware they suffer from the disease.

Symptoms of diabetes

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased urination
  • Tired feeling
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness or tingling in feet or hands
  • Wounds that do not heal
  • Unexplained weight loss

American Diabetes Association recommends bariatric surgery be considered for adults with type 2 diabetes who have a BMI greater than 35, in particular if diabetes or associated diseases are difficult to control with lifestyle and pharmacologic therapy.

Meta-analysis of 22,000 bariatric surgery patients in 136 studies (1990-2003) found average bariatric excess weight loss was 61.2 percent, and 86 percent of patients saw improvement or resolution of Type 2 diabetes.

Gastric bypass may result in resolution or improvement of Type 2 diabetes independent of weight loss by decreasing levels of ghrelin – an appetite-stimulating hormone secreted by the stomach.

Twenty-four of patients who have bariatric surgery experience complete, long-term – five years or more – remission of their Type 2 diabetes; 26 percent experience partial remission and 34 percent improved from baseline 26 (Annals of Surgery, 2013)

If you are ready to take the next step, the Corpus Christi Medical Center- Bay Area Hospital has free monthly weight loss seminars to help you explore the options and get informed. To find out more, call 361-761-5000