Bariatric surgery can result in long-term weight loss and significant reduction in cardiac and other risk factors, including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), for some severely obese adults, according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. The statement, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, is the first by the association focused solely on bariatric surgery and cardiac risk factors.

“The statement is not an across-the-board endorsement of bariatric surgery for the severely obese,” said Paul Poirier, MD, PhD, lead author of the statement and director of the prevention/rehabilitation program at Quebec Heart and Lung Institute at Laval University Hospital in Canada. “It is a consensus document that provides expert perspective based on the results of recent scientific studies.”

When reviewing the scientific literature, the statement-writing committee found that, when indicated, bariatric surgery leads to significant weight loss and improvements in the health consequences of being overweight, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, liver disease, high blood pressure, cardiovascular dysfunction, and obstructive sleep apnea. Recent studies have suggested that bariatric surgery prolongs life in the severely obese.

There are, however, surgical risks—including death—and long-term postsurgical lifestyle implications. Patients must make lifelong behavior changes, such as supplement use, and follow up with the surgical team.