What's the buzz

Bariatric surgery cuts risk in diabetics

A new study has shown that bariatric surgery reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with diabetes.

“This is a watershed moment for diabetes care. With 20 years of data, we can really see how the surgery can improve a spectrum of health measures, notably cardiovascular risk,” said Francesco Rubino, director of gastrointestinal metabolic surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

While Type 2 diabetes is not technically a cardiovascular disease, experts said it might as well be one, given the corrosive effects of unregulated blood sugar on the heart.

According to the American Heart Association, at least 65 percent of people with diabetes die of some form of heart disease or stroke. Lars Sjostrom, professor at the Institute of Medicine in Goteborg, Sweden, presented new data gleaned from the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study. He reported on 20 years of data comparing 2,010 bariatric surgeries with 2,037 non-surgical patients who received medical treatment or lifestyle modification for obesity. “Type 2 diabetes has always been considered a chronic, lifelong disease, but the long-term data show remission in 70 per cent of patients after two years of follow-up,” he said.

Sjostrom concluded that the surgery’s preventive effect seems to be even stronger and more long-lasting than its ability to sustain long-term remission.

Drug cocktail shows  promise against hepatitis C

A team of researchers has suggested that a three-drug cocktail can eliminate the hepatitis C virus in patients far more effectively than the current two-drug regimen. “This study represents a remarkable advance and a potential cure for people with hepatitis C who have not responded to previous therapy,” says co-author Stuart C Gordon, section chief for the Division of Hepatology at Henry Ford Hospital.

In the study, researchers randomly assigned patients to one of three groups. In all three groups, patients received peginterferon and ribavirin (the current standard of care) for four weeks.  Results showed the rate of sustained virologic response (loss of the virus) was significantly higher in the two boceprevir groups (group 2, 59 percent; group 3, 66 percent) than in the control group (21 percent). Among patients with an undetectable hepatitis C virus level at treatment week 8, the rate of sustained virologic response was 86 percent after 32 weeks of triple therapy and 88 percent after 44 weeks of triple therapy.

Singing lowers patient’s BP prior to surgery

 A case study has reported that singing lowers patient's blood pressure prior to surgery. Doctors found that singing reduced the blood pressure of a 76-year-old woman who had experienced severe preoperative hypertension prior to total knee replacement surgery for osteoarthritis (OA).

While the patient was unresponsive to aggressive pharmacologic interventions, the woman’s blood pressure dropped dramatically when she sang several religious songs.  Traditional therapy for preoperative hypertension, doctors say, involves drug-based therapies that include diuretics, beta blockers, calcium-channel blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.

These medications are used to lower blood pressure to acceptable levels for surgery, however, a number of patients do not respond to these treatments. In patients unresponsive to standard therapies, as in the current case study patient, alternative hypertension interventions are needed.

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