Objective: To evaluate survival rates and changes in weight-related comorbid conditions after bariatric surgery in a high-risk patient population as compared with a similar cohort of morbidly obese patients who did not undergo surgery.
Summary Background Data: Morbid obesity is increasingly becoming a major public health issue. Existing studies are limited in their ability to assess the risks and benefits of bariatric surgery because few studies compare surgical patients to a similar, morbidly obese, nonsurgical cohort, especially in high-risk populations like the elderly and disabled.
Methods: A retrospective cohort analysis using Medicare fee-for-service patients from 2001 to 2004. Survival rates and diagnosed presence of 5 conditions commonly comorbid with morbid obesity were examined for morbidly obese patients who did and did not undergo bariatric surgery, with up to 2 years follow-up.
Results: Morbidly obese Medicare patients who underwent bariatric surgery had increased survival rates over the 2 years of this study when compared with a similar morbidly obese nonsurgical group (P < 0.001). For patients under the age of 65, this survival advantage started at 6 months postoperatively and for patients over age 65, at 11 months. The surgical group also experienced significant improvements in the diagnosed prevalence of 5 weight-related comorbid conditions (diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and coronary artery disease) relative to the nonsurgical cohort after 1 year postsurgery (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Bariatric surgery appears to increase survival even in the high-risk, Medicare population, both for individuals aged 65 and older and those disabled and under 65. In addition, the diagnosed prevalence of weight-related comorbid conditions declined after bariatric surgery relative to a control cohort of morbidly obese patients who did not undergo surgery.