Studies: Elderly at higher risk of death from obesity surgery

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Patients 65 and older have a substantially higher rate or death and re-hospitalization resulting from surgical procedures used to treat obesity, according to studies reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

One study by researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle found that the death rate one year after a surgical procedure to treat obesity was 11.1% for people age 65 or older, compared to 3.9% for younger patients.

In another study reported in JAMA, Dr. David S. Zingmond and his colleagues at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles observed that Roux-en-Y gastric bypass resulted in increased hospital use after surgery. But death rates were lower compared with the Washington study.

While the studies demonstrate certain patient populations are more vulnerable to adverse outcomes, experts caution that the results should encourage improvement in obesity surgery and not the exclusion of certain patient groups.

Complete reports on the studies were published in Wednesday's issue of JAMA.