24 million Canadians are estimated to have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke
A permanent weight-loss solution
Most patients opting for weight-loss surgery are more concerned about their overall health – including illnesses like heart disease and diabetes – than they are about appearances, says Dr. Chris Cobourn, medical director and CEO of SmartShape Weight Loss Centre with six locations across Canada.
“Most of our patients are not really concerned about their weight. What they care about is how their weight affects the way they feel and move, and how it affects their health. Those are the issues that our patients are much more concerned about. We help get their weight-related health conditions under control and get them feeling better about themselves,” he says.
Dr. Cobourn says one of the major risk factors for heart disease is obesity. Along with the obesity itself, there is the association with type 2 diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.
“Those are three of the five well- known risk factors for heart disease – the other two being smoking and family history. By treating the obesity, you treat the other conditions and thus significantly reduce the impact of cardiac disease and cerebrovascular disease like strokes,” he explains.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada says being overweight is a major risk factor for heart disease, and in fact obesity doubles a person’s chance of developing heart disease. The foundation reports heart disease is the second leading cause of death in the country, and an estimated 1.3 million Canadians are living with heart disease.
While most people who are overweight or obese have tried to lose weight by dieting, the challenge is keeping the weight off. The frustration with unsuccessful diets motivates people to look for a more permanent solution.
“If you want to achieve permanent weight loss and all the health benefits of permanent weight loss, you need to do something permanent – weight-loss surgery is a permanent solution,” says Dr. Cobourn.
Two of the most-often performed surgeries at SmartShape are sleeve gastrectomy and mini gastric bypass procedures.
In the sleeve gastrectomy, a portion of the stomach is removed, leaving a narrow tube at the upper part of the stomach, which helps you to feel full sooner and to stay full for a longer time.
The gastric sleeve is all about portion control, says Dr. Cobourn. The mini gastric bypass also reduces the size of the stomach, restricting the amount a person can eat. It also reduces the absorption of the food a person eats, by bypassing a portion of the intestines. This dual-stage approach has been shown to be highly effective when combined with changes to eating and lifestyle habits. You feel fuller, faster. And absorption of food is reduced, he says.
“Exercise improves your cardiovascular fitness, reduces your risk of diabetes, and does all sorts of great things, but it’s never been shown to be a means of permanent weight loss. If you want to lose weight, you need to reduce how much you eat,” he adds.
Both surgeries have a relatively predictable effect.
“We see, on average, people lose in the range of 75 per cent of the excess weight – if they were 100 pounds overweight, we would expect them to lose about 75 of those pounds – within one year of surgery,” says Dr. Cobourn.
However, a critical part of the program at SmartShape is the multi-disciplinary team of nurses, dieticians and coaches.
“If you perform weight-loss surgery on individuals and then don’t provide post-operative support, they often don’t see the results anticipated and patients are disappointed. That’s where SmartShape really excels. We have built a team of health-care professionals who are very experienced and help our patients get the results they hoped for,” says Dr. Cobourn.
The procedures that have been developed are very safe, he adds.
“People don’t need to fear the procedure. The risks of remaining obese are greater than the procedure itself. The results will be best when they are committed and motivated to work with the procedure, whether it’s a sleeve or a mini gastric bypass. It’s not magic, but these procedures are ‘tools’ that help them lose the weight and keep it off.”
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