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Bariatric Surgery Patients Breathe Easier and Use Fewer Prescription Breathing Medications

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Bariatric surgery, or weight loss surgery, is a type of procedure performed on people who are dangerously obese, for the purpose of losing weight. Long-term studies show bariatric surgery cause significant long-term loss of weight, improvement in cardiovascular risk factors, recovery from type 2 diabetes, improvement from sleep apnea and a reduction in mortality of 23% to 40% [1]


“Not only do patients breathe easier, less money is spent on prescription health care costs,” said Naveen Sikka, MD, lead author and ACAAI member. “Better quality of life, possible reduction of chronic breathing problems, including asthma, and lower health care costs significantly benefit patients and help to reduce the national health care crisis.”

The retrospective study reviewed health records of 320 bariatric surgery patients at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, for one year before and after bariatric surgery. Prescription medication fill rates were determined from patient prescription claims. A total of 324 prescriptions were filled before surgery as compared with 154 after surgery.

“Some obese patients develop asthma, while others are treated for breathing problems with medications typically used for asthma,” said Andrew Weinstein, MD, ACAAI Asthma and Respiratory Disease Committee vice-chair. “The results of this study bring us closer to determining if weight loss can improve asthma long-term.”

Reference: Malcolm K. Robinson, Editorial, Surgical treatment of obesity -- weighing the facts, N Engl J Med, 361:520, July 30, 2009

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