Vienna, Austria – Men are five times more likely to die from weight loss surgery than women, a new study warns. A study of more than 19,000 obese patients found that men who underwent these procedures had a higher risk of dying within 30 days than women.

According to a study that analyzed ten years of national data, older men are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease և type 2 diabetes during surgery. As a result, their long-term mortality rate is almost three times higher than for female patients in general.

“Surgery is one of the most successful ways to help people with obesity lose weight, but it can have complications,” said Dr. Hannes Beglbok, lead author of the report at the University of Vienna Medical Center.

“Although the absolute risk of dying after bariatric surgery is low, the results of our nationwide study show a significant increase in the risk of mortality among men compared to women. “Women are more willing to look for surgical weight loss earlier in life, while men tend to wait until they have more concomitant diseases.”

What do weight loss surgeries do?

As obesity rates continue to rise around the world, more and more people are seeking weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery, which are procedures that limit the amount of food a person can consume or reduce food intake. Processes can lead to long-term weight loss, reduced risk of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and some cancers. However, despite similar obesity rates for men and women, the study found that there was gender inequality, as more than 70 percent of patients undergoing bariatric surgery were actually women.

To better understand how the mortality rate after surgery differs between men and women, the researchers analyzed health data from the Austrian state insurance database, which covers about 98% of the population. Of the approximately nine million Austrians, 14,681 women and 5,220 men under the age of 40 underwent bariatric surgery between January 2010 and December 2018. These procedures included thin gastrectomy, gastric bypass, and gastric banding. The team analyzed and followed these patients for an average of five years.

What contributes to the death of men after surgery?

The researchers then analyzed gender-specific differences in obesity-related illnesses in deceased patients. Between January 2010 and April 2020, less than two percent of patients undergoing bariatric surgery died. However, postoperative mortality rates for men and women were almost three times higher. During the 30 days after the procedure, the mortality rate among men was five times higher compared to female patients.

Cardiovascular diseases and psychiatric disorders were the most common concomitant diseases among the dead. Although type 2 diabetes was more common in men than in dead women, female patients actually had a higher incidence of cancer (41%) than men who underwent weight loss surgery (30%).

“The challenge now is to understand the potential barriers to bariatric surgery for men, and further research is needed to determine if earlier surgery could improve mortality in men,” said Dr. Beglbock.

The authors of the report admit that their findings were observational, և the team faced several limitations, such as lack of metabolic և BMI data. Without further investigation, the team cannot rule out the possibility that other unmeasured factors, including socioeconomic status, race, smoking, dietary habits, or physical activity behavior, may also influence these results.

The researchers presented their findings at the annual meeting of the European Diabetes Association.

South West News Service writer Georgia Lambert contributed to this report.