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For the study, researchers tracked 242 adolescents for three years after they had weight-loss surgery.
"This is the first large-scale analysis of predictors of change in cardiovascular disease risk factors among adolescents following bariatric surgery," said the study's lead author, Dr. Marc Michalsky. He is surgical director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
"The study demonstrated early improvement and reduction of cardio-metabolic risk factors, offering compelling support for bariatric surgery in adolescents," he explained in a news release from the hospital.
Before surgery, 33 percent of the teens had three or more factors that boost the risk for heart disease. Risk factors included high blood pressure, high blood-fat levels, problematic blood sugar levels and systemic inflammation.
However, three years after the surgery, that number had dropped to just 5 percent, the findings showed.
People who were younger at the time of their surgery tended to do better in terms of eliminating heart disease risk factors, "suggesting there may be advantages to undergoing bariatric surgery earlier, even among adolescents," Michalsky said.
Patients who had a lower body mass index (a measurement based on height and weight) before surgery also did better on reducing heart disease risk. And, girls did better than boys, the investigators found.
The study was published online Jan. 8 in Pediatrics. The research was funded by the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and was conducted at five clinical centers across the United States.
-- Alan Mozes
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